Victims of spinal cord injuries face a tremendous amount of suffering – physically, emotionally and financially, which affects their entire family. The complications of a spinal cord injury can bring about depression, chronic pain, paralysis or even death.
A person may have lived a full and healthy life before the accident and then, in the blink of an eye, a disastrous injury causes all of that to slip away. The emotional strain is difficult enough to deal with: families should not also have to stress over how to pay for medical bills and long-term care, especially when the cause of the accident was the fault of another person, medical professional or unsafe working conditions.
Continual medical care, lost wages and loss of employment due to injuries or having to care for a person suffering from a spinal cord injury, can be very expensive, especially over a person’s lifetime. If the accident was due to the negligence of another driver or a medical professional, the victim and their family should speak to an attorney about the best way to get the maximum compensation for their injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury (SCI) means that part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal has been damaged, resulting in a change in the spinal cord’s normal motor, sensory or autonomic function.
The spinal cord and brain make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord acts as the pathway, sending information to the brain from all the other nervous systems: peripheral (limbs, organs, skin), somatic (muscle movements/touch) and autonomic (breath, heartbeat, digestion). Because it plays such a vital role in how the body communicates with the brain, any injury to the spinal cord can cause serious problems.
The place along the spinal cord or backbone where the injury occurs and the severity of the injury will determine whether the victim will have control over their limbs. Wherever the injury occurs on the spinal cord will affect everything below that area – the higher up the spine the injury occurs, the more dysfunction and severity of the consequences.
Symptoms of spinal cord injuries can include:
- Inability to sense cold, heat or touch
- Pain or intense stinging
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Loss of movement
- Experiencing spasms or abrupt muscle reflexes
- Changes in sexual function or sexual sensitivity
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty coughing or clearing secretions from your throat or lungs
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Any type of blow to the spine that fractures, crushes, compresses or dislocates one or more vertebrae can cause a traumatic spinal cord injury. A bullet or stabbing wound can also damage the spinal cord.
Most cases of traumatic spinal cord injuries stem from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents, but they can also happen from acts of violence, slips and falls, alcohol-related injuries, sports injuries and workplace/construction accidents.
The use of alcohol plays a factor in many spinal cord injuries, in which a person under the influence behaves in a reckless fashion causing injury to themselves or others, such as carrying a person on their shoulders and then losing balance.
Non-traumatic spinal cord injuries could be caused by worsening medical conditions, such as blood clots, tumors or swelling. These conditions can stem from cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other infections and inflammation or degenerative spinal diseases.
In some instances, spinal cord injuries are the result of medical malpractice in which doctors or other medical professionals were negligent during surgery or the course of treatment or them misdiagnosis the injury. If this happened to you or your loved one, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.
A misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose or delayed treatment of certain diseases can result in a spinal injury or further damage to the spinal cord. This is true in cases such as Spinal Stenosis and Spina Bifida. Surgical errors can also result in a spinal cord injury or nerve damage.
If a doctor ignores a potential spinal cord injury caused by trauma or assumes the injury will heal on its own without proper follow-up and treatment, this is a form of medical malpractice and you may be eligible to file a legal claim.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can result in a loss of sensation and movement and paralysis. The following classifications are used to describe the severity of a patient’s spinal cord injury:
- Paraparesis: partial paralysis of the lower extremities (legs and pelvic organs)
- Paraplegia: complete paralysis of all or part of the trunk, legs and pelvic organs.
- Quadriparesis: partial paralysis of all four extremities (arms, legs and pelvic organs)
- Quadriplegia: also known as Tetraplegia, it is complete paralysis of all four extremities
Spinal Cord Injury Grading
The severity of spinal cord injuries is classified as incomplete or complete. Complete means that all movement and sensation below the injury placement are lost and Incomplete means that some movement and sensation remain.
The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grades the degree of injuries from A to E, with A being the most severe and E being the normal motor and sensory functioning.
The grading from ASIA is as follows:
- A = Complete
- B = Sensory Incomplete
- C = Motor Incomplete
- D = Motor Incomplete
- E = Normal
Complications and Long Term Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries
After the initial injury, further health damage can occur over days or weeks due to bleeding, swelling, inflammation or an accumulation of fluid.
Many health issues can arise from spinal cord injuries in addition to paralysis including: bladder and bowel complications, numbness, tingling, ulcers, loss of senses, muscular pain, herniated discs, sexual dysfunction, an inability to reduce body temperature, arthritic spurring, inability to regulate blood pressure, chronic pain and susceptibility to respiratory problems or an inability to breath on one’s own.
In addition, people who suffer spinal cord injuries usually have shorter life spans and can suffer from depression.
The long-term effects of needing constant care and medical treatment, in addition to lost wages, can be an extreme financial burden to most families. If these injuries were the fault of another person or medical professional, you should not have to bear this burden without receiving the maximum compensation for the injuries and pain and suffering they have caused
At SMT Legal, we represent people who have suffered injuries of all kinds. If you are the victim of negligence or an unfortunate accident, our attorneys can help.
Causes of Accidents Resulting in Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries are serious injuries that can be debilitating and make it difficult to perform the most basic functions of your day. What may begin as a sore back or neck can easily worsen, or turn into a chronic condition. Even something considered a minor injury can cause a great amount of pain when the back and neck are involved.
The most common back and neck injuries typically occur from:
- Car Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Workplace Accidents – especially construction and labor jobs that require heavy lifting and machinery
- Sports Injuries
- Surgical Errors
Common Back and Neck Injuries
There are numerous back and neck injuries that range from soft tissue injuries to catastrophic loss. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure that you get the best outcome for your case and your specific injury.
Some of the most common back and neck injuries include:
- Pinched nerve
- Ruptured or Herniated Disk
- Bulging or Collapsed Disk
- Disk Protrusion or Degeneration
- Torn or Slipped Disk
- Lower Back Injury
- Broken Neck
- Spinal Cord Trauma
- Compression Fractures
Common Signs And Symptoms of Back And Neck Injuries
Not everyone experiences a back or neck injury in the same manner. Back and neck injuries have numerous signs and symptoms you should look out for – and which should be documented by a physician for your records.
The full extent of your injuries will be important in determining any damages that you might be entitled to receive.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Radiating pain down arms or legs
- Unusual Sensations such as burning, tickling or prickly feelings
- Decreased range of motion
- Loss or Lack of Sleep
- Cognitive or Psychological Impairment
No matter how slight or inconsequential you think a pain or sensation might be, it is important to be examined by a doctor. Back and neck injuries can worsen and become more severe over time.
Pittsburgh Injury Lawyers
We are compassionate attorneys who want to help answer your questions and determine the best way of holding those responsible for your back or neck injury accountable.
We are also aggressive injury lawyers and will fight the insurance companies and workers compensation to find a solution in recovering medical costs, lost wages and other damages.
Whether you or your loved one was injured in an accident or is the victim of another person’s negligence, we are here to guide you and your family through a difficult time. We will listen to the details of your case to fully understand the surrounding circumstances. Contact SMT Legal and find out what your options are immediately.