A sudden, traumatic spine blow fracturing or dislocating your vertebrae marks the beginning of what we call a spinal cord injury.
The majority of spinal cord injuries are preventable and due to causes such as car vehicle accidents, falls, or violence.
38.6% of all spinal cord injuries are a result of a motor vehicle accident.
In the USA alone, approximately 17,810 new cases of spinal cord injuries are registered each year.
Approximately 294,000 people live with spinal cord injuries live in the United States.
Every year, 250,000 to 500,000, people all over the world sustain a spinal cord injury. People with spinal cord injuries experience a massive impact on their mental, emotional, and social state.
While scientists believe that advancement in medical science will soon help millions suffering from the issue, we are yet to see an efficient cure for spinal cord injuries. There are modern lightweight wheelchairs and other advanced equipment that improves a patient’s ability to move, but you may have to pay a substantial price. Spinal cord injury patients have two to five times more chances of premature death than people without an SCI.
To recover from SCI, patients need early treatment and immobilization. Working as a spinal cord injury attorney, we come across several people without a clear idea of SCI and how it impacts an individual’s life. This article aims to help everyone as we break down everything there is to spinal cord injury.
Whiplash or whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) is one of the most common spine problems after a road accident. The whiplash symptoms start developing within a few days post-accident and can include:
A herniated disc occurs when the soft, jelly-like center of discs starts leaking through a crack on their tough exterior due to a road accident. This liquid starts surrounding and putting pressure on nerves and nerve roots. Symptoms of the herniated disc include:
Vertebral fractures, like any other fracture, can be of any degree across the vertebrae. While mild fractures may heal without any long-term treatment or by merely resting, major fractures can result in serious issues such as burst fractures, flexion fractures, or vertebral compression fractures. The symptoms of a vertebral fracture include:
A personal injury accident can result in several different types of paralysis. The severity of the paralysis depends on whether the injury is a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury. The severity of the paralysis also relates to how high on the spinal column that the damages occurs. Generally, the higher the spinal column (closer to the head) the more likely that the paralysis will be severe or catastrophic. This is not to say that lower damage on the spinal column (towards the pelvis) is not catastrophic, because it is, but the most severe types of paralysis occur in injuries to the neck.
For instance, the most common types of paralysis include the following:
Damage to the thoracic or lumbar spine (mid-back or lower back) could result in paraplegia. This can affect the torso and lower extremities. If the damage to the spine is incomplete, an individual may maintain some ability to walk, move, or have sensation. This could still be impaired to a great extent and still require some type of ambulatory device. If the damage to the spine is complete, however, a person is likely unable to move the lower extremities or be able to sense anything below the point of damage.
Also known as tetraplegia, quadriplegia can greatly affect a person’s life because it is due to damage to the cervical spine or the neck. An incomplete spinal cord injury could result in diminished function and sensation to all four extremities and nearly the entire torso. Whereas a complete spinal cord injury could result in a person having completely no function and sensation to all four extremities and the torso. This could render a person almost 100% dependent on the care and assistance of another.
Quadriplegia is often classified as high or low. High quadriplegia could leave a person with no sensation anywhere below the chin or mid-neck. Low quadriplegia could allow a person to have some sensation in the upper shoulders or arms, but not much else below that. This can affect damages.
A rarer type of paralysis, monoplegia occurs when only one extremity is damaged. This is often not due to damage directly to the spinal cord, but rather this is due to the major branches leaving the spinal cord and extending out to the extremity. For instance, a right-sided compression fracture in a motor vehicle accident to the cervical spine could damage parts of the brachial plexus nerves that govern sensation and movement in the right arm. As a result, a victim’s right arm may not function properly, or at all, but a victim’s other extremities may work as normal.
After suffering a spinal cord injury, an individual may or may not be able to control their limbs. Two factors decide whether or not the victim will be able to control their arms, hands, legs, or feet- place, and severity of the injury. In medical terms, the severity of a spinal cord injury is defined through completeness.
Spinal cord injuries cause several long-term functional, social, and mental problems. Patients with SCI experience a huge impact in various aspects of their life. They are always at risk for complications such as osteoporosis, numbness & weakness in limbs, kidney stones or bladder infections, and more. Their social life gets restricted, and it can mentally disturb them.
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves made up of 31 segments running down the bony spinal column. This somewhat flexible cord connects the peripheral nervous system to the brain, functioning as a pathway for the brain’s information or instructions.
The spinal cord is located in the vertebral column, consisting of thoracic, cervical, sacral, lumbar, and coccygeal sections.
The average length of the spinal cord ranges from 45 cm to 43 cm in men and women, and it is always shorter than the bony spinal column surrounding it. This disproportion in length is caused during development since our spinal cord finishes growing by 4, whereas the vertebral column grows until 14 to 18.
Being part of our central nervous system (CNS), the spinal cord originates from our brainstem and is divide into five parts, including:
The spinal cord controls our voluntary movements and is made up of 33 bones, including 12 vertebrae in the thoracic region, 7 vertebrae in the cervical region, 5 in the sacral region, 5 in the lumbar region, and 4 in the coccygeal.
Spine Injuries from an Accident: Get the Basics
Road accidents are the biggest reason for the elevating number of spinal cord injuries globally. No one wants you to stop driving your cars, but the risk of having a potential lifetime paralysis due to a car accident is worth discussing. Having extensive experience as a spinal cord injury attorney, we know the ins and outs of accident-related SCI cases. Here’s a list of injuries you might sustain from an MVA-related incident, how they can be treated, how much time it can take to recover, what legal issues are involved, and insurance-related information.
Apart from a huge impact on individuals’ health, long-term injuries care also comes with an immense expense. When someone loses their ability to earn, the family has to spend a significant amount on the patient’s equipment and medication.
Family members need to maintain the patient’s peace of mind by providing him hope and regular medical care. In case the family members witness any other complications in the patient’s health, seek immediate medical help.
Lifetime Costs of Spinal Cord Injuries
The lifetime costs of spinal cord injuries is staggering. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center (NSCISC), the lifetime costs all range well into the seven-figure range for all types of spinal cord injuries. Most of the expenses relate to the need for medical treatment, surgeries, physical therapy or occupational therapy, and mobility assistance devices. This includes modifications to a home or vehicle. But in severe cases of spinal cord injuries, the expenses also include continued therapies for life, more advanced mobility assistance devices, and nursing care. In fact, very serious cases of quadriplegia like high quadriplegia that is a complete spinal cord injury may require near around-the-clock nursing care and attention. This is what significantly increases the lifetime costs of an injury.
Some of the following examples of the costs include the following:
All of these costs are based on 2020 figures, and undoubtedly will go up over the years due to inflation and the rising costs of healthcare. This means that the lifetime costs of a spinal cord injury at 25 years old could in fact double the estimated lifetime costs provided here. This is even more overwhelming which is why it is imperative for victims to recover the compensation they deserve with the health of an experienced Las Vegas spinal cord injury lawyer like ours at Michael Hua Injury Law.