A spinal cord injury you sustained in an accident can be life-changing because the spinal cord is such a vital part of the body. Depending on the location and severity of your injury, you might have to face a lifetime of weakness, loss of sensation, and even paralysis. Some victims of these injuries lose the ability to breathe without mechanical support, to eat regular food, or to have control over digestion and waste.
Because these injuries can be catastrophic, spinal cord injuries can cause an extreme financial burden on patients and their families. If you can no longer work (either short-term or long-term), you will be unable to support yourself and your loved ones. You might have to get a different vehicle and have a contractor make expensive home modifications. The magnitude of these injuries makes them some of the most significant personal injury cases. Our team of personal injury lawyers at S. Burke Law are here to help you at such a difficult time. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to arrange your free consultation.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
You can suffer a spinal cord injury from any accident that carried enough force to fracture, splinter, crush, or otherwise affect the vertebrae that protect your spinal cord and thereby harm the spinal cord itself. Some of the most common scenarios that cause spinal cord injuries are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall injuries
- Sports injuries
How Trauma Damages the Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is a bundle of motor and sensory nerves that carry messages from your brain to your arms, legs, and other body parts, instructing those areas when and how to move or work. For example:
- The nerves in the neck regions of your spinal cord tell the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and hands how to work together so that you can write, pick up a fork and eat, and use your cell phone.
- Other nerves control your ability to breathe, swallow, digest, and excrete your waste.
- The nerves in your lower back tell the muscles in your legs and feet what they need to do so that you can sit, stand, walk, run, jump, and climb.
If the spinal cord injury cuts (severs) any of these nerves, it destroys the communication network to and from the brain. Without instructions from the brain, your body parts cannot perform their functions. So, if your spinal cord in your lower back sustains permanent severe harm, you might not be able to walk again.
You have motor nerves that control how your muscles work and sensory nerves that make it possible for you to feel sensations. Depending on the extent of your injury, you might have the ability to walk but feel as if there are pins and needles jabbing your legs. You might have weakness instead of paralysis, or your impairment might be on one side of your body but not the other.
How a Spinal Cord Injury Can Affect Your Life
If your spinal cord injury was “incomplete” (not severed all the way through the cord), you might eventually regain the ability to move your arms and legs as you did before, and to breathe, swallow, and perform other everyday functions that we all take for granted. Sometimes the initial swelling and bleeding can cause temporary impairment, even paralysis, but with an incomplete spinal cord injury, there is some hope for recovery.
For a complete spinal cord injury, in which the trauma severs the spinal cord entirely, there is no cure. The patient will have to undergo many long months of rehabilitation and therapy and learn how to cope with the new daily challenges of living. The patient will likely need specialized care for the rest of his life.
How to Tell If You Might Have a Spinal Cord Injury
If you have been in a significant car crash, slip and fall, sports accident, or other trauma, you should get professional medical attention right away. Some spinal cord injuries do not exhibit symptoms immediately, but moving incorrectly can worsen the damage.
Some spinal cord injuries are apparent as soon as the dust settles, and some are fatal.
If you have any doubt about a spinal cord injury, you should get prompt medical care. It might be necessary to have an ambulance transport you to the hospital to avoid additional harm to your spinal cord.
If you have any of these symptoms after an accident, get a medical evaluation at once:
- You cannot move a part of your body
- You have pain or burning
- In a part of your body, you feel “pins and needles” or have no feeling
- You cannot breathe or swallow normally
- You experience sexual, bladder, or bowel dysfunction
Treatment Options for Spinal Cord Injuries
Medical science offers a range of treatment options for spinal cord injuries. Depending on how severe your injury is, your treatment team might suggest:
- Physical therapy
- Short-term or extensive rehabilitation
- Respiratory support
- Palliative care
How to Get Help for a Spinal Cord Injury
If you sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you might have a right to collect compensation. You do not have to sort through all the legal factors to determine if you should file a lawsuit for your losses. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, and we will arrange your free consultation.
Every case is different, so we will take the time to talk with you about how you got hurt and evaluate your right to compensation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you win.