The Possible Lifetime Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury

Posted by on Dec 13, 2016 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

The spinal cord is a tube-like structure which goes from the brain stem to the bottom of the spine (spinal column). This very delicate and sensitive bundle of nerve tissues and support cells forms the central nervous system with the brain and serves as the pathway where messages from the brain (which acts as the body’s control or command center) get transmitted to the different parts of the body and back.

As fragile as it is, the spinal cord is protected by layers of coverings which cushion it from the impact of a forceful blow. These layers of protection include the bones, muscles, ligaments and discs. There are instances, however, when the impact to the spinal cord is just too strong for the protective coverings to withstand; at other times, a foreign object may just be sharp enough so that it is able to penetrate though the protective coverings, damaging the spinal cord as a result.

In 2005, new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the U.S. was at 11,000. In 2014 the number shot up to 12,500 new cases and, since then, around this same number keeps on getting added every year to the 276,000 spinal cord injured children and adult. About 82% of the total number of SCI patients are male and 56% of those injured are aged between 16 and 30.

MedlinePlus, a website owned and operated by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, states that risk of injury to the spinal cord are due to: the weakening of the spine due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis; bruising of the spinal cord after the disks or bones have been weakened by fragments of metal or fragments of bones; the back, neck or head being twisted abnormally, resulting to the spinal cord getting compressed, pulled or pressed sideways; and, swelling, fluid buildup, or bleeding, either inside or outside the spinal cord. These causes of spinal cord injuries, in turn, can be due to assault, gunshot wound, industrial accident, motor vehicle accident, sports injury or falls (from 2000 – 2013, the identified major cause of spinal cord injuries was vehicular accidents; it was replaced by falls in 2014 (this is based on a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research).

Injuries to the spinal cord usually lead to partial or total paralysis; the actual result depending on the area injured and how severe the injury is. Partial paralysis, also known as paraplegia, is impairment in motor or sensory functions of lower extremities (legs and trunk). The degree of paralysis varies; it may be impairment in leg movement or complete paralysis of the legs and abdomen.

Quadriplegia or tetraplegia, which means paralysis of four limbs, results from a serious injury to the cervical (neck) spinal nerves. If the injury occurs high enough in the area of the neck, then control of breathing may also be lost, necessitating the use of a ventilator for the rest of the patient’s life. Individuals suffering from quadriplegia usually need full-time care.

As explained in the website of The Benton Law Firm, the majority of injuries to the spinal column are due to motor vehicle accidents especially trucking accidents, which are all too common in many cities in the U.D., most especially in Dallas, Texas, a major thoroughfare for large trucks.

The average annual cost to treat an injured spine runs between $15,000 to $30,000 per year, with estimated lifetime costs totaling over $3 million. This is a tough sum for anyone to handle, and insurance will only cover up to a certain amount of this expense. Insurance claims will not cover lifetime earnings that you would have amassed had you not sustained an injury to your spinal cord. However, if a person was responsible for your injury, you may be able to bring a claim against them for your injuries with the help of an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer. This liable person will be required to pay for your medical expenses, loss of income, future earnings, and pain and suffering.

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