Spinal cord injuries are generally catastrophic, causing permanent disability or paralysis of the injured person. There are many causes of spinal cord injuries, including falls, work-related accidents, violent acts and sports activities. Though, one of the leading causes of a spinal cord injury is auto accidents. It is believed that car accidents account for almost 50 percent of new spinal cord injuries every year.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury can vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Loss of movement and sensations are common indications of a spinal cord injury, as well as pain. Victims of spinal cord injuries sometimes have difficulty breathing or clearing their lungs. The emergency signs of a spinal cord injury after an accident are even more intense and include the following:
- Severe back pain or pressure in the neck, head or back
- Breathing difficulties
- Trouble with walking or balance
- Loss of movement in any part of the body
- Numbness in hands, fingers, feet or toes
There are many more symptoms of a spine injury and it is crucial that an accident victim be treated immediately to prevent further damage to the spine. An emergency physician will evaluate the patient by testing for sensory function and movement to determine the extent of the injuries. Tests may include x-rays, CT scans, MRIs or myelography exams.
Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
Unfortunately, it is impossible to reverse the damage to the spinal cord. There are treatments designed to help people with spinal cord injuries have an active and productive life within the confines of their disability. In order for the treatment to be successful, emergency actions and ongoing care are required.
Emergency personnel will stabilize the victim’s neck to prevent further complications and will focus on maintaining the patient’s blood pressure. An injured victim may also be medicated to reduce the damage to nerve cells and decrease inflammation around the injury. Emergency surgery is also common to remove bone fragments, foreign objects, fractured vertebrae and herniated disks that may be compressing the spine. Surgery can also help prevent future pain and deformity.
Ongoing care for a spinal cord injury is used to avoid problems that could occur from immobilization, such as muscle contractures, bedsores, blood clots, deconditioning and urinary infections. Range of motion exercises will most likely be prescribed for the paralyzed limbs. Rehabilitation will also be recommended to improve muscle strength and increase mobility.
Repercussions of Spinal Cord Injuries
When a spinal cord injury causes paralysis of the majority of the body, the condition is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. In the situation where the spinal cord injury only affects the lower body, it is known as paraplegia. All of these conditions are life altering and will consequently result in a substantial loss of income as the injured person will not be able to function in the same capacity. Medical expenses are high for a patient with one of these conditions. If the accident that caused the spinal cord injury was caused by a negligent party, the injured victim may be able to recover damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury, contact David M. Benenfeld, P.A. today. He has been helping injured victims in South Florida get the compensation they deserve and can help you.