Updated on: 3/19/2018
Each year, more than 10,000 people in the United States sustain a spinal cord injury. A spinal cord injury can drastically change a person’s life forever, and it can happen in an instant. Every spinal cord injury is unique and can require varying levels and types of rehabilitation and medical treatment. In some cases, injury victims never make a full recovery, which can create a number of new challenges for the victim’s everyday life.
When a person suffers a spinal cord injury, the communication between their brain and the other parts of the body is interrupted as a result of the physical trauma. This causes the flow of messages between the central nervous system and the rest of the body to be disrupted.
The stream of communication between the damaged area and the rest of the body is dependent on both the severity and location of the injury. The human spinal cord is a bundle of nerve cells and fibers approximately seventeen inches long that extends from the brain to the low back. The spinal cord is a vital part to the human body because it carries messages from the brain to all parts of the body and receives incoming messages from the body as well.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are many ways that a person can suffer a spinal cord injury, and they can be classified as either traumatic or non-traumatic – this is determined by whether or not the injury was caused by physical trauma.
Traumatic spinal cord injuries include injuries sustained in military service, falls, auto accidents, sports injuries and or violence. Non-traumatic injuries may be caused by arthritis, cancer and or infection, or any other type of medical condition. Spinal cord injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord and the level of the injury will dictate which bodily functions are altered or lost.
Damage to the spinal cord can cause changes in movement, feeling, bladder control and or other bodily functions. The amount of changes to the body is determined on how severely damaged the spinal cord is.
Immediately after a spinal cord injury, the spinal cord stops doing its job for a period of time which is called “spinal shock.” The return of reflexes below the area of injury on the spinal cord, means the spinal shock has come to an end and recovery is on the rise. Rehabilitation begins immediately.
The most common form of rehabilitation is strength exercises, different styles of movement and the use of special equipment. Some symptoms don’t appear until months or years after the initial spinal cord injury, which can also make it difficult to determine the best course of treatment during the rehabilitation process.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
Though the symptoms are not always apparent right away and can take time to develop, it is important to understand what the symptoms are in order to identify a spinal cord injury as quickly as possible. This can reduce the need for some intensive treatments and can increase the chances of a full recovery.
Some symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:
- Burning or stabbing back pain;
- Throbbing at the site of impact (if it was a traumatic injury);
- Sharp, tingling and or numbness throughout the back;
- Difficulty feeling in the extremities;
- Tingling in fingers and/or toes;
The seriousness of a spinal cord injury is not only due to the symptoms and physical limitations that affect the victim, but also because of the amount of care and treatment that are required for a victim to make a full recovery.
Furthermore, injury victims who do not make a full recovery will likely require some level of long-term care, particularly in extreme cases where the injury places serious limitations on the victim’s physical abilities.
If a victim suffers a spinal cord injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision or some other form of accident, they may be able to recover financial compensation for the damages and losses they suffered as a result of the injury. In these cases, it is usually best to consult with a personal injury attorney who is familiar with handling spinal cord injury cases.
Attorney Chris Davis of Davis Law Group, P.S. has handled numerous high-profile spinal cord injury cases and has recovered millions of dollars for accident victims in his years as an attorney in Seattle. If you would like to consult with Davis Law Group to see if you may have grounds for a claim, contact our office online or call 206-727-4000 today.