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Spinal Injuries – What You Need to Know

spinal cord injury attorney

In a spinal cord injury, the spinal cord and/or the nerves situated at the bottom of the spinal canals sustain damage. These kinds of injuries can permanently alter the victim’s sensation, strength, and other bodily functions below the site of the injury.

A spinal cord injury can disrupt every facet of the patient’s life. Besides the excruciating physical discomfort, the patient also experiences emotional, mental, and social limitations due to the injury.

Scientists and researchers hope that advancements in medical science will someday make it possible to reverse spinal cord injuries. In many nations, research is underway on techniques to deal with spinal injuries. At present, patients with these injuries can lead independent and rich lives through proper treatments and rehab.

Spinal Cord Injuries: Types

After injuring your spinal cord, your ability to control your limbs will depend on two aspects: the location and the severity of the injury.

The neurological aspect of the injury refers to the lower portion of the spinal cord that has normal function. The severity of the spinal cord injury may be classified as:

Complete

A spinal injury is categorized as complete if the patient loses all sensation and the ability to control the movement or motor function beneath the injury area.

Incomplete

If some sensation or movement remains beneath the area of injury, it is known as incomplete. There can be varying degrees of an incomplete injury.

Paralysis, as a consequence of a spinal cord injury, is also known as:

Tetraplegia

When a spinal cord injury impacts the hands, trunk, legs, arms, and pelvic organs, it is known as tetraplegia. Another term for this condition is quadriplegia.

Paraplegia

This form of paralysis only impacts the full or a portion of the legs, pelvis, and trunk.

A medical professional will perform various tests to establish the neurological aspect and severity of your spinal cord injury.

Immediate Medical Attention

Immediate medical attention is necessary for any person who suffers significant head or neck trauma. It is advisable to assume that a victim of trauma has spinal cord injury, unless determined otherwise because:

  • An injury to the spinal cord is not always immediately apparent. The injury may become worse if it is not identified in time.
  • Numbness or paralysis in areas of your body may develop right after the injury or gradually due to the inflammation or bleeding near the spine.
  • The period between the spinal injury and treatment is crucial to understanding the extent of damage, severity of complications, and the chances of recovery.

Spinal Injuries: Causes

Injuries to the spine may occur due to damage to the discs, vertebrae, or ligaments that form the spinal column.

When the spine is struck by significant, sudden force that causes damage to one or more vertebrae, it may lead to a traumatic spinal cord injury. Such injuries may also occur when the spinal cord is penetrated or severed by a sharp or rigid object.

In the following days, additional damage usually occurs due to swelling, fluid accumulation, and bleeding in the spinal cord and areas surrounding it.

A non-traumatic spine injury may occur because of swelling, infections, arthritis, cancer, or deterioration of the spinal disk(s).

Irrespective of whether a spinal injury is traumatic or non-traumatic, it impacts the nerve fibers that go through the site of the injury and affect the related nerves and muscles beneath the injured area.

A lumbar (lower back) or thoracic (chest) injury can impact bowel and bladder control, torso, sexual function, and legs. A cervical (neck) injury also causes damage to the same body areas and impacts the movement of the arms. Injuries of this magnitude can also have a possible effect on the patient’s ability to breathe. 

Common causes of spinal injuries include the following:

Motor accidents

The primary cause for spine injuries is auto and motorcycle crashes, which make up nearly 50 percent of all spinal cord injuries annually.

Falls

A spinal cord injury usually occurs due to a fall in people aged 65 years and above. Falls cause over 15 percent of spine injuries.

Violent encounters

Nearly 12 percent of injuries to the spinal cord occur due to violent acts, typically involving wounds inflicted with a knife or gun.

Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol is a contributory factor in almost one out of four spine injuries.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Most victims of vehicle crashes in the US sustain either neck or back injuries. Such injuries can be life-altering, with mounting medical bills and deteriorating health conditions. If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury due to the recklessness or negligence of another person, contact a qualified personal injury attorney at the law offices of Smith & McGhee. Call (334) 702-1744 to set up an initial consultation today.