Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are devastating injuries that can result in permanent disability. They occur when the spinal cord is damaged due to trauma, disease, or other causes. The spinal cord is a vital part of the central nervous system that transmits messages between the brain and the rest of the body, allowing us to move, feel, and control our bodily functions. When it is damaged, it can lead to a range of physical and neurological problems that can have a profound impact on a person’s life.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries:
There are many possible causes of spinal cord injuries, but the most common cause is trauma, which can result from falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and violence. Other causes include diseases such as cancer or infections, spinal cord compression due to a herniated disk, and degenerative conditions such as arthritis.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries:
Spinal cord injuries can be classified into two types: complete and incomplete. A complete injury means that there is no sensory or motor function below the level of the injury. In other words, the person is paralyzed and cannot feel anything. An incomplete injury means that there is some degree of sensory or motor function below the level of the injury. The person may have some sensation or movement, but it is limited and varies depending on the severity of the injury.
Injuries to the spinal cord can also be classified by the location of the injury. Injuries to the cervical spine (the neck) are the most severe and can result in quadriplegia (paralysis of the arms and legs). Injuries to the thoracic spine (the upper back) and the lumbar spine (the lower back) can result in paraplegia (paralysis of the legs).
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries:
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the location of the injury. Some common symptoms include:
- Loss of movement or sensation
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Chronic pain
- Spasticity or muscle stiffness
- Low blood pressure
- Autonomic dysreflexia, a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur in people with injuries above the T6 level.
Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries:
There is currently no cure for spinal cord injuries, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage. Treatment may include medications, surgery, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Rehabilitation is a crucial part of the recovery process for people with spinal cord injuries, and it can include learning new skills, such as how to use a wheelchair, as well as coping strategies to deal with the emotional impact of the injury.
If you or a loved one is living with a spinal cord injury, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation may be able to help provide you with resources. This non-profit organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis, including those with spinal cord injuries.
Preventing Spinal Cord Injuries:
Preventing spinal cord injuries is key to reducing the number of people who suffer from these devastating injuries. Some effective ways to prevent spinal cord injuries include:
- Wearing a seatbelt while driving
- Wearing a helmet while riding a bike or participating in high-risk sports
- Using proper safety equipment while at work
- Removing hazards from the workplace and home, such as slippery floors or loose rugs
- Avoiding risky behavior such as drug or alcohol use, and reckless driving
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another person, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. It is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. Anderson Franco Law is ready to help, contact them now.