Spinal cord injuries are life-changing and frequently life-threatening. They can happen in an instant and change a person’s life forever. For example, one day, a person could be running errands and the next experience a life-altering injury that significantly impacts their life and the lives of their loved ones. These injuries often cause a permanent change in strength, sensation, and other bodily functions below the injury site.
The spinal cord is a collection of nerves that runs down the length of the back from the head and neck to the tail bone. The primary function of the spinal cord is to carry vital signals from the brain to the various muscles and tissues that comprise the human body. These signals operate the body’s motor functions and provide the brain with sensory details like temperature change injury notification. The nerves are protected by interlocking bones (vertebrae column) that allow the spinal cord to function.
When the spinal cord is injured, it can cause a disruption of nerve signals that allows the body to move and sense changes. However, most spinal cord injuries do not severe the cord completely. Instead, a spinal cord injury may damage pieces of the vertebrae column, tear spinal cord tissue, or put pressure on parts of the cord designed to carry signals. Some brain injuries may also disrupt signals to the spinal cord.
Many people that experience a spinal cord injury must undergo extensive surgery and medical care to gain back motor function and sensation. Unfortunately, this leads to irreversible damage requiring a person to live with the damage for the rest of their life.
When the spinal cord is injured, a person will experience total or incomplete paralysis to parts of the body below the injury. Paralysis can include total or incomplete loss of movement and loss of sensation. The two forms of paralysis include the following:
According to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, there is no known way to reverse spinal cord damage. Although researchers and clinicians have developed multiple medical care treatments, including prostheses, medications, and surgical procedures that treat injuries or promote regeneration of spinal tissue and nerve cells, improving function, injuries are irreversible.
Because many spinal cord injuries occur from a traumatic accident to the body, people should seek emergency medical attention immediately after an accident. In these instances, emergency services personnel will commonly immobilize the spine and place a person in a rigid neck brace and carrying board. Once at an emergency medical center, personnel will continue to immobilize the injured person’s neck and back and provide an apparatus to help them breathe.
Depending on the nature of the injury, a medical provider may plan a severe treatment to address spinal cord damage. Treatments include:
Although corrective treatments still do not exist, various rehabilitation people who experience spinal cord injuries can use them to provide quality of life after their injury. Such rehabilitation includes:
Although a spinal cord injury can occur in infinite scenarios, most injuries occur in a limited number of situations. According to Mayo Clinic, the most common spinal cord injuries include motor vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence, sports and recreation activities, and alcohol.
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. According to data collected by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 38.6% of all spinal cord injuries that occurred in the United States between 2015 through 2020 were caused by vehicle crashes. This constitutes the highest number of spinal cord injuries attributed to a single cause. Motorcycle accidents can also cause spinal cord injuries.
Depending on the circumstances of a fall, many people will not experience a spinal cord injury. However, spinal cord injuries resulting in a fall occur in people aged 65 or older because of bone density loss and pre-existing conditions.
Mayo Clinic states that approximately 12% of all spinal cord injuries occur from violent encounters like gunshot and knife wounds, when a foreign object like a bullet or knife blade enters the body at a high velocity, the act severs nerves and inflicts damage on one or more vertebrae.
Many high-impact sports and recreational activities can wreak havoc on a person’s spinal cord. For example, sports like football and diving can cause a player or swimmer to hit objects at high speeds causing head, neck, back, and shoulder damage and resulting in spinal cord injuries. Even the use of safety gear may not be enough to prevent all injuries.
Various medical illnesses can cause degradation of the nervous system leading to temporary or permanent damage to the spinal cord. According to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Library of Medicine, such diseases include:
Some serious injuries can be caused by medical malpractice from a treating physician or emergency services personnel.
Spinal cord diseases can include pain, numbness, sensation loss, and muscle weakness throughout the spinal cord or in a person’s arms and legs.
Spinal cord injuries cause a healthy and productive person to lose a significant portion of their mobility and cause irreparable damage to their body. If a spinal cord injury was caused due to another party’s negligence, then contacting an attorney may be in that person’s best interest.
An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the circumstances that led to a person suffering a spinal cord injury, craft a legal strategy to address the factors that led to the accident, file a claim against the responsible party, and seek compensation for that person’s injuries.
In instances where a spinal cord injury was caused by a motor vehicle accident, an experienced Tulsa spinal cord injury attorney can evaluate the facts of the accidents and determine the best legal path a person can take to seek compensation for that injury. Such legal avenues include:
Spinal cord injuries can also cause expensive medical bills leaving a person to haggle with their insurance company over payment of bills and eligibility to pursue specific treatments. Our clients often contact our firm to negotiate with their insurance company citing policy limitations for surgery, treatment, and forms of rehabilitation. By contacting an attorney, a person can ensure their medical needs are met.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, contact a Graves McLain Spinal Cord Injury attorney to represent you in your time of need. We provide everyone that walks through our doors with a free consultation to ensure our services are suitable for their needs.
Our law firm’s goal is to secure injured persons and their families with top-quality legal representation and the maximum compensation to help cover medical bills, lost wages, home alterations, prescriptions, therapy, rehabilitation, and other related services necessary to address a spinal cord injury. At Graves McLain, our Tulsa, Oklahoma, spinal cord injury attorneys have the experience to handle almost every type of injury.
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