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Spinal cord injuries: The basics

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | Personal Injury

Spinal cord injuries are among the most catastrophic injuries that can occur as a result of accidents. These injuries occur when there is damage to the spinal cord, the bundle of nerves running down the middle of the back that transmits signals between the brain and the body.

Motor vehicle crashes and falls are two of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. The sudden and forceful impact of a car crash or the shock from a fall can fracture, dislocate, or compress the vertebrae, leading to damage to the spinal cord.

Types of spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries are classified as either complete or incomplete, depending on the extent of the damage.

Complete spinal cord injuries result in a total loss of sensory and motor function below the level of the injury. This means there is no sensation or voluntary movement, and both sides of the body are equally affected.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries involve partial damage to the spinal cord. In these cases, some function remains below the primary level of the injury. The person may have some movement or sensation, and the severity can vary widely.

Life-long impacts

The impacts of a spinal cord injury are often life-long and can be extensive. They can include:

·       Physical challenges: A person may experience partial or complete paralysis. This can lead to a reliance on mobility aids such as wheelchairs and may require modifications to living spaces.

·       Medical complications: There is a risk of secondary medical complications, including bladder and bowel dysfunction, respiratory problems and an increased risk of infections.

·       Emotional and mental health effects: The drastic life changes and physical limitations brought about by a spinal cord injury can have significant emotional and mental health impacts, including depression and anxiety.

The costs associated with treatment, long-term care and necessary modifications to lifestyle can be substantial. This financial burden and potential loss of income can be a significant stressor. With this in mind, victims of these injuries may seek compensation if their condition resulted from another party’s negligence or intentional conduct.