The Lifetime Costs of Spinal Injuries
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your back. It carries signals between your body and your brain. A spinal cord injury disrupts the signals. Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. With a complete spinal cord injury, the cord cannot send signals below the level of the injury. As a result, you are paralyzed below the injury. With an incomplete injury, you have some movement and sensation below the injury.
A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can reduce long-term effects. Spinal cord injuries usually begin with a blow that fractures or dislocates your vertebrae, the bone disks that make up your spine. Most injuries do not cut through your spinal cord. Instead, they cause damage when pieces of vertebrae tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals.
Injuries to the spinal column as a result of an accident can have a long-term impact on you or a family member and can prevent you from resuming your everyday activities. There are many causes of spinal injuries, such as motorcycle accidents, motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents, defective products, slip and fall accidents, work related incidents and bicycle accidents.
The lifetime costs associated with a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be extremely high. The potential expenses from this type of injury depend largely on the accident victim’s age, the severity of the injury and the force of the impact. Many spinal cord injuries happen when an accident victim’s neck or back suffers a sharp blow or forcefully strikes the ground. These injuries are especially common in motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle accidents.
Spinal injuries involving paralysis have immediate life-changing consequences. You will need extensive medical treatment. Spinal cord injury sufferers experience a number of health problems, such as complications with the bladder and bowels, the inability to regulate blood pressure, a reduction in the ability to regulate body temperature, chronic pain and decreased resistance to respiratory complications. Overall, spinal cord injury victims generally experience a shorter lifespan and need a lifetime of specialized medical care.
The Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are usually caused by trauma to the spine. They can also be caused by a blow to most parts of your back. Many of these injuries are caused by someone else’s negligence, permanently changing the quality of life of the victim. According to Mayo Clinic, the following are some of the most common:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Motor vehicle accidents account for almost half of all new spinal cord injuries every year
- Falls: Overall, falls cause more than 15 percent of spinal cord injuries.
- Violent acts: Acts of violence account for almost 12 percent of spinal cord injuries, often involving knife wounds and gunshots.
- Recreational sports: Recreational activities such as impact sports and diving in shallow water, cause about 10 percent of spinal cord injuries.
- Medical errors: Mistakes are often made during surgeries on the neck or back. In this case, the injuries would be the result of medical malpractice.
7 Things to Know About Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims of spinal cord injuries likely have a lot of questions when they first find out about the injury. Unfortunately, most of these questions have no easy answers. In some cases, the answers depend on the circumstances of the injury. Consider these points if you or a love one have a spinal cord injury.
1. Spinal cord injuries have various causes
Spinal cord injury causes vary from tumors to accident. Car accidents, slip and fall, sports injury and other similar accidents can all lead to spinal cord injuries. The cause of the spinal cord injury is one factor that determines what treatments are appropriate.
2. The effects vary greatly
Spinal cord injury effects vary based on the location and the type of injury. Injuries higher on the spinal cord usually cause more catastrophic effects since these injuries impact the area below the injury. Incomplete injuries can result in having some feeling and use of the areas below the injury. Complete injuries don’t have any use or feeling in the areas below the injuries.
3. Treatment options also vary greatly
Treatments for spinal cord injuries vary from medication to surgery. The treatments for each case are determined on a case-by-case basis. The type of injury and the symptoms of the injury determine what treatments might be useful.
4. Therapy is almost always required
Spinal cord injuries usually require therapy. You might need physical, occupational and respiratory therapy to help you live the fullest life you can. Just like other aspects of treatment, therapy can customize plans that take all the effects of the injury and possible improvements into account.
5. You might need to make significant modifications to your house
Modifications to a home are often necessary. You might be going home in a wheelchair, so doors and hallways might need to be wider. Bathrooms and other rooms might also need modifications in order for you to be able to move around your home.
6. You might also need to modify your car
You may need a vehicle that can accommodate your wheelchair or one that enables you to drive. This can mean modifying your existing vehicle or purchasing a new vehicle. You must think carefully since this is usually a considerable investment.
7. Your loved ones will also suffer
Your family members might suffer because of your injury. Your spouse might have to care for you and can’t expect you to do the things you’ve always done. Your children might have to adapt to a parent who isn’t able to do many things he or she formerly could accomplish. This, as well as the financial impacts of the injury, might lead you to seek compensation for the injury if the cause was negligence on the part of another person.
Why You Need an Attorney
Because of the complex and serious nature of spinal cord injuries, hiring a personal injury attorney is absolutely essential. A lawyer experienced in handling spinal cord injury lawsuits can help ensure that those responsible are held accountable and that you get the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, ongoing treatment, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages.
A spinal cord injury attorney can also help you to protect your family if you have a long road to recovery or cannot fully recover. If you or a loved one was involved in a potential spinal cord injury lawsuit, please contact our Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.