What You Need To Know About Spinal Cord Injuries (From Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys)
According to the World Health Organization, between 250,000 – 500,000 people sustain a spinal cord injury every single year. September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. The purpose of this designation is to “honor the courage of those with spinal cord injuries and their families”, to “educate the general public regarding spinal cord injuries, and to “improve the support for those with SCI”.
The Florida Law Group wanted to bring attention to this important recognition because our personal injury lawyers have seen firsthand the devastating effects that spinal cord injuries can have on a victim’s life. We have dedicated our careers to fighting for justice for those who suffered a spinal cord injury or other severe injury as a result of another person’s negligence, and to date we have recovered over $1 billion dollars for our clients. If you have been injured or suspect you may have been injured in this way in an accident that was not your fault, read on to learn what you need to know about spinal cord injuries and call our spinal cord injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation!
What the spinal cord does
The spinal cord is a dense bundle of nerves running from the base of the brain down to the spinal canal (end of your back, near the L1 vertebrae and below). It’s an incredibly fragile part of your body, and an incredibly important one; your spinal cord is the pathway that allows your brain to communicate with the rest of your body. It is essentially responsible for your body’s main functions, which include voluntary movements, digestion, urination, heart rate, blood pressure, and sensations like touch, pressure, temperature, and pain.
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe because the spinal cord controls so much. If yours is damaged, any or all of your body’s main functions could be compromised.
Types of spinal cord injuries
There are two main types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete injury is one where there is no function below the level of the injury, while an incomplete injury is one where there is some function below the primary level of the injury.
Spinal cord injuries, whether complete or incomplete, can be classified into four categories: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. The spinal cord is protected by rings of bone known as vertebrae, which make up the spinal column; the higher in the vertebrae the trauma occurs, the more extensive the injury will likely be. Cervical vertebrae are located in the neck. Thoracic vertebrae are located in the chest. Lumbar vertebrae are located in the lower back. Sacral vertebrae are located at the end of the spinal column (below pelvis).
Main causes of spinal cord injuries
One study that analyzed data from over 7,000 participants in the National SCI Database (NSCID) and National Shriners SCI Database (NSSCID). The data revealed the most common causes of spinal cord injuries to be as follows:
- Vehicular crashes (31.5%)
- Falls (25.3%)
- Gunshot wounds (10.4%)
- Motorcycle crashes (6.8%)
- Diving incidents (4.7%)
- Medical/surgical complications (4.3%)
Effects of spinal cord injuries
Because the spine is so important to our body’s well-being, any effects of a spinal cord injury can be deadly, or at least life-changing. 85% of people with a spinal cord injury who survive the trauma for 24 hours will likely be alive 10 years later, but a spinal cord injury could lead to death or reduced life expectancy. For the people who live with these injuries, a few of the most common effects they will endure may include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of all sensation below the injury level
- Loss of all motor function below the injury level, including loss of bladder control
- Partial or total paralysis (paraplegia, quadriplegia)
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Increased risk for pneumonia
- Circulatory problems (blood pressure) and blood clots
- Muscle atrophy
- Increased risk for diabetes
- Increased risk for cardiovascular problems
- Chronic pain
All of the physical effects of spinal cord injuries can also lead to emotional and economic effects. People who suffer SCIs may require lifelong assistance from family members or caregivers, depending on their level of impairment, which can lead to depression. An estimated 20-30% of people with spinal cord injuries are clinically depressed, which has more negative impacts on their physical health.
Children with spinal cord injuries are less likely to advance in school, and over 60% of adults with spinal cord injuries are unemployed.
The cost to treat a spinal cord injury
Depending on how severe the injury is, victims could be faced with paying tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars over the course of their lifetime to treat their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Those high numbers are not an exaggeration. Within the Veterans Affairs healthcare system, the average SCI patient was charged $603,349 within the first year of being injured, and then an average of $92,454 annually for long-term care.
According to data from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (formerly the American Paralysis Association), people with quadriplegia can expect to pay about $1 million in case for the first year; paraplegia results in about half that amount. And that is not including the costs of travel, lost wages, lost earning potential, etc.
Sometimes the injured accident victim was at fault for their own injury, or sometimes an accident happens that is outside of any particular party’s control. However, much of the time, someone else caused the accident that led to the injury. If that is the case in your specific situation, you deserve to be fully compensated for the great loss you’ve experienced and also for all of the financial costs you’ve incurred and are going to incur. An experienced team of spinal cord injury attorneys can help you understand your legal options for recovering monetary damages.
Call the aggressive spinal cord injury attorneys at The Florida Law Group to schedule a free consultation. You never pay unless we win your case!