Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries usually result from a sudden, forceful, and dramatic impact to the spine that can cause fractures and dislocate or compress your vertebrae, ligaments, and discs of the spinal column. As a result of the bleeding and swelling that typically occur with these injuries, there are often secondary injuries that result from the inflammation around the spinal cord.
What should I do when someone has been injured, and I suspect that they have a spinal cord injury?
It’s not a good idea to move anyone who has injured their back or neck unless moving them is necessary to get them out of the way of more harm and danger. But if they can remain where they are until help arrives, then that is better. Keep in mind that spinal cord injuries are not always immediately apparent. Call 911 immediately and let the operator know the victim’s state so that they can send a trauma team to respond.
It’s essential to keep the victim still. Reassure them that you have called for help and that it is coming. If you can, place heavy towels or heavy fabric on either side of the neck or hold the person’s head and neck so that they can remain still until emergency personnel arrive.
If it has been some hours since the accident and you were considered ambulatory immediately after but have started feeling pain or numbness, then go directly to your nearest emergency room. Even if you’ve had minor spinal cord injuries, it’s still important to be seen by a medical professional who can ensure that they will not get worse.
The Central Nervous System
The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system along with the brain. The spinal cord itself is made of soft tissues that are protected by hard vertebrate bones around it. Your brain sends messages to the relevant parts of your spine that then send those messages out to different parts of your body, depending on what they are connected to. This is why you can have spinal cord damage that affects the lower half of your body but not the upper half.
These messages that go out to your muscles from your brain travel along nerve fibers. Anytime there is an injury to these nerve fibers, there is a corresponding impact on the muscles those fibers are connected to.
For example, severe cervical injuries affect the neck, arms, lungs and the rest of your body from your neck down. Victims of cervical injuries may need mechanical assistance to even breathe. A lumbar injury, on the other hand, could affect your legs and lower torso including your ability to control your bowel and bladder.
As mentioned before, spinal cord injuries can lead to loss of functions that are necessary to live and can be humiliating, such as losing control of the bladder or bowels. It’s very hard for victims to go from being self-sufficient people to suffer some of the side effects of their injuries. Not to mention the physical pain experienced by the victim that significantly decreases their quality of life. All of these are considered non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. You do not have to suffer without legal guidance. Give us a call today to talk about your rights and your options, as well as what damages you are possibly eligible to receive.
Another dangerous issue that can occur with spinal cord injuries is the inability to control breathing. If the nerve fibers cannot send messages to the chest muscles, they cannot properly breathe and cough. Victims can become more susceptible to pneumonia as a result of their paralysis.
The skin becomes less sensitive to touch, and victims may lose some or all of their skin sensation. This may make them less sensitive to heat and cold and pressure, meaning that victims are susceptible to pressure sores and other injuries that they would’ve avoided had they had full sensation.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Because spinal cord injuries typically happen because of sudden impact, they typically are the result of an accident or intentional harm. The most common causes include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: from car accidents to truck accidents to motorcycle accidents, the majority of spinal cord injuries that occur each year are due to a crash that occurred while driving.
- Falls: While anyone at any age can fall, people over age 65 are much more likely to suffer spinal cord injuries from losing their balance. But if you have suffered a fall due to another reason, such as a premise liability case or Workers’ Compensation case, then you may still be eligible to receive damages from your personal injury claim.
- Recreational activities: when playing in a pool or outdoors, it’s important to follow safety guidelines so that you do not dive in shallow water, slip and fall, or suffer another type of accident
- Not wearing proper gear: similar to taking precautions before recreational activities, if you are not wearing your seatbelt, a helmet while riding a motorcycle, or taking other necessary precautions when engaging in a known dangerous activity, you could put yourself at greater risk of more severe injury. Helmets and seatbelts have been known to save lives.
- Violent attacks: Gunshot wound and knife wounds are some of the most common spinal cord injuries that can occur due to violence and criminal intent
Sometimes clients ask about punitive damages. There may or may not be a criminal case associated with your accident. Call Goldstein & Goldstein, LLP to schedule your free case evaluation to find out what type of damages you could be eligible for.
Why Goldstein & Goldstein, LLP
When you have been injured or have a loved one’s life has been changed due to their accident, then you also face mounting medical bills, endless doctors appointments, stress, and oftentimes very little support. A small law firm with dedicated attorneys, such as Goldstein & Goldstein, LLP, can take a lot of that stress off of your shoulders. We are experienced in these types of cases and know how to handle the insurance companies for you.