Sustaining a spinal cord injury can have a profound effect on someone. They may lose mobility and feeling in their arms and legs, experience weakness in their muscles, and even have problems with breathing.
A spinal cord injury happens when something causes bruises or tears to the spinal cord, which is made up of nerves that send messages from the brain through the rest of the body. Tears along the spinal cord can be partial or complete. A spinal cord injury accident is the main cause.
According to the World Health Organization, each year between 250,000 and 500,000 individuals around the world sustain a spinal cord injury. Most of these are due to preventable trauma and accidents. Spinal cord injury accident victims often need long-term care and a personal injury lawyer on their side to advocate for their needs.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
While a spinal cord injury accident is usually the cause, an accident can take many forms. Here are some of the more common accidents that can cause spinal cord injuries:
- Car and motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Downhill skiing accidents
- Slips and falls, especially on wet and icy surfaces
- Accidents related to playing sports or exercise
- Diving incidents
Spinal cord injuries can also happen during birth, as the result of domestic or other forms of violence, infections, and progressive disease. A spinal cord injury accident is rarely the victim’s fault. As estimated by the World Health Organization, 90% of spinal cord injuries are directly attributable to trauma.
A person’s gender can impact at what age they’re at risk for spinal cord injuries. The risk for males is at its highest between ages 20 to 29 and then again after 70. Females are at the most risk when they’re between the ages of 15 and 19, and when they reach 60.
According to John Hopkins, the average age that someone sustains a spinal cord injury is 42. The majority of people who sustain these injuries are white males, although John Hopkins does not indicate what other factors may be contributing to this risk.
The Aftermath of Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury can lead to temporary or permanent disability, in addition to the loss of major bodily functions. People can need a caregiver to help meet their basic needs. They can also need months or even years of physical therapy to recover from their injuries.
It’s common for people to develop chronic pain, breathing problems, and osteoporosis.
Besides the physical aspects of their injuries, individuals can develop depression and anxiety. They may mourn the loss of who they were or what they could once do. People who sustain spinal cord injuries can face discrimination and barriers in social settings. They can also find it more difficult to get and maintain gainful employment.
The severity and location of the injury can impact treatment options and recovery. For instance, injuries that occur towards the top of the spinal cord can cost more to treat
What are the Treatment Options?
Treatment options will depend on a person’s symptoms, such as complete loss of feeling or movement in the arms and legs. The healthcare community considers a spinal cord injury an emergency, as it could also lead to loss of life.
Anyone who sustains these types of injuries will likely undergo imagery tests, including X-rays and CT scans.
Once the extent and nature of the injury are determined, other factors such as the patient’s age and preferences will factor into the course of treatment. The goal is often to stabilize the patient and relieve any pressure on the spinal cord and nervous system.
Specific treatment methods can include:
- Being admitted to a hospital’s ICU
- Medication, including steroids
- Intubation with a ventilator
- A catheter to substitute for the loss of bladder functions
- A feeding tube
Long-term treatment options include physical rehab, hospitalization, and in-home care. Most spinal cord injury accident patients require some form of ongoing care from doctors, physical therapists, nurses, and caregivers.
Both physical and occupational therapy is usually necessary for spinal cord injuries. How much an individual recovers and makes and sustains progress will depend on the severity and type of injury.
Determination to overcome adversity can play a role, but it will not negate the need for rehabilitation.
Doctors and other medical practitioners can address the unique care needs of each patient. Other types of care, including counseling and medication, can be used to help address the psychological effects of the injury.
Compensation After an SCI Accident
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise you of your options. It may be possible to file a claim with the at-fault parties to recover compensation for your losses, including medical bills, lost income and earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering and other intangible losses.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, our injury lawyers will create and build a case to prove the other party’s liability by gathering evidence and consulting with experts. Our firm will also help to keep track and organize medical bills and records to document your injuries and their costs as well as negotiate with insurance companies, healthcare providers and the other party’s attorneys.
Contact us today for a free consultation. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you on the next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Don’t go it alone. Let us help you turn your setback into a comeback.