Although any kind of personal injury can be severe, few are more devastating than those involving spinal cord damage. Some cases are only temporary and resolve themselves with rest and proper medical treatment – while others may be life-threatening and can result in temporary or even permanent paralysis.
The effect of these kinds of traumas can be heartbreaking to both the injured and their families. While victims frequently experience a reduced quality of life, loved ones are often overwhelmed with anxiety because of their inability to help. The costs of treatment (both emotionally and financially) can be staggering and may leave families struggling for answers.
If you or someone you know has suffered a spinal cord injury, contact The Sevey Law Firm today to discuss your rights. We’ve Been helping Northern California residents with injury litigation cases for more than a decade.
We offer free consultations to all of our clients and will gladly discuss what options may be available to you. There’s never a charge to speak to us and we only get paid if we win your case. Call us today at (916) 788-7100 to learn more about how we can help.
Spinal Injury Symptoms
The importance of a healthy spinal cord cannot be overstated. While the brain controls the thoughts of the body, the spinal cord is the signal highway that makes it all happen. This bundle of nerves controls everything from one’s sense of touch and pain to movement of the body and proper functioning of vital organs.
It’s no wonder these types of injuries can be so devastating.
According to the most recent statistics, roughly 17,000 new cases of SCI (spinal cord injuries) are reported each year. These numbers don’t even include the many fatal accidents involving SCI. Males have been determined to be most at risk, and the majority of new cases involve either vehicular accidents or falls.
The nature of SCI symptoms varies in each situation, but some of the most common experiences include:
- Partial or full paralysis
- Decreased sensation
- Chronic or severe pain
- Muscle spasms
- Sexual dysfunction
- reduction or loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Difficulty breathing
- Secondary illnesses (bladder or lung infections, bedsores, etc.)
Although the results from traumatic injuries are often seen right away, others can develop more slowly over time. Things like feelings of pain or pressure in the head, neck or back area, weakness or numbness, or trouble walking or maintaining one’s balance.
These warning signs are often indicators of serious problems yet to come. Seeking medical help immediately should be priority number one. However, if you think your injury may be the fault of a third party, consulting with a qualified personal injury law firm should be next on your list.
Types of Spinal Injuries
In the majority of SCI cases, the location of the injury has the biggest impact on the body’s response. As a general rule, the higher the damage, the worse the outcome will be. When describing SCI injuries, it helps to be familiar with some common terminology.
Many people have heard of the terms “paraplegic” and “quadriplegic” but they are not always familiar with what they actually mean.
Paraplegic injuries usually result in damage to the lower half of the body, but may leave the upper half intact. Paraplegic patients often lose control of the legs, have problems with bowel or bladder control and sometimes experience sexual dysfunction.
These kinds of symptoms are normally seen when the lower section of the spinal cord has been damaged.
Quad/Tetraplegic victims experience more severe outcomes. Frequently, these kinds of patients lose at least some control of function and/or movement from the shoulders down. Although special devices are available to assist with daily activities, many patients still require 24-hour care in order to survive.
Damage to the upper sections of the spinal cord are the primary factors for quad/tetraplegia injuries.
SCIs are also classified by the extent to which damages occur.
Incomplete injuries are those in which some sensation and movement ability are still present beyond the point of injury. If the entire circumference of the spinal cord is not compromised, only certain parts of the body will show symptoms This could be the case where one single arm or leg has problems, but not the other.
The recovery probability and quality of life factor are better from incomplete injuries, but returning to full health is never a guarantee.
Complete injuries are common when the spinal cord is completely crushed or severed beyond the point of the accident. Victims in this case normally have no sensation or movement ability beyond the damaged areas, and the same imbalances are seen on both sides of the body.
When dealing with complete injuries, the chances of recovery or improvement are slim. The victims quality of life is significantly reduced as well.
Common Causes of Spinal Injuries
As previously noted, vehicle accidents are by far the leading cause of SCI injuries. They account for nearly 40% of new cases each year. While motor vehicle safety has improved over the last several decades, cars still cannot offer complete protection from the severe compression and twisting forces experienced during an accident.
Falls account for another large portion of new SCIs. While most would think of construction accidents or acts at tall heights as the main culprits, this is not always the case. Even accidents at home involving ladders, stairs or uneven surfaces can lead to serious injuries.
Rounding out the bottom third of the list are acts of violence (gunshots, knife wounds, physical beatings, etc.), sports injuries and medical malpractice accidents. Each has the potential to be life-threatening depending on the nature and severity of the incident.
SCI victims can also experience pain and suffering from secondary injuries outside of the main trauma. Side effects such as swelling, bleeding and fluid buildup can be prone to infections and sometimes lead to further damages.
Treatments Available for Spinal Injuries
Although medical science has made huge advancements in recent years, there is still much to be done in helping SCI victims. Developments in stem cell research are promising, but for now, most doctors still rely on traditional methods to combat spinal cord injuries.
Depending on the extent and severity of the trauma, one or more of the following treatments may be prescribed:
Rest – when an injury is relatively minor, sometimes extended rest periods are all that’s required to bring about healing.
Medication – if swelling or inflammation are present, medications are often prescribed to ease pain and/or reduce complications.
Surgery – in severe cases, surgery may be required to remove fluid or damaged tissue, repair injured vertebrae or extract foreign objects. Surgery is usually a last resort as the risk of causing further damage is always present.
Physical Therapy – can sometimes bring back at least partial mobility after the initial surgeries and healing have been completed.
Although your treatment options may be limited, your rights to compensation for your injuries are not. Reviewing your case with an experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in evaluating your options and help determine which course of action is right for you.
Choosing a Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
The team at The Sevey Law Firm are experts in spinal cord litigation and take pride in assisting SCI victims and their families. We understand the devastating impact these kinds of accidents can have on everyone involved. That’s why we work hard to ensure our clients receive the highest compensation for their injuries and the best long-term benefits possible.
We can’t change what has already happened, but we can help our clients get the care they need and allow them to live their best life possible moving forward.
Not only can we negotiate with the insurance companies and corporate lawyers on your behalf, but also assist in filing for disability and workers compensation claims (if applicable).
We take care of everything and let you and your family focus on what’s most important – recovering and getting back to life.
Call us today at (916) 788-7100 to setup your free, no-obligation consultation. We’re happy to guide you through the process and create a unique plan for healing with your individual case.