Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic, leading to life-changing consequences that can last for decades. While there are some instances where a person can eventually recover fully after suffering damage to the spinal cord, the unfortunate truth is that, in most cases, this type of injury will be permanent.
Many times, someone will suffer a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another person, or another party. It could be a car accident caused by a distracted driver, or a slip-and-fall accident that occurred because a retail operation failed to address a dangerous situation. Whatever the reason may be, victims of spinal cord injuries caused by negligence deserve justice.
The attorneys with Sand Law fight passionately on behalf of people who have been forced to suffer unthinkable pain and loss of quality of life due to the negligence of others. If this has happened to you or someone you love, please get in touch with us to learn how we may be able to help. You can use our online form for a free case review, or you can give us a call at 651-291-7263.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can occur in many different ways. They can be due to damage to the discs, ligaments or vertebrae located in the spinal column. Injuries can also affect the spinal cord itself, often leading to death or a lifetime of debilitation.
Any sort of trauma can do devastating damage to the spinal cord. It could be a sudden impact that crushes, fractures or compresses vertebrae. The spinal cord can be cut due to a bullet or a knife. The days after a trauma can lead to problems as well, such as accumulation of fluid around the spinal cord, as well as bleeding and swelling.
These are just a few of the more common causes of a spinal cord injury:
- Motorcycle and automobile accidents (It’s estimated that these types of accidents are responsible for nearly 50 percent of all new spinal cord injuries every year.)
- Athletic activities
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two basic types of spinal cord injuries – complete and incomplete. When a spinal cord injury is complete, that means the affected area will be permanently damaged. One of the most common results of a complete spinal cord injury is paraplegia, which is a loss of feeling or movement below the area that has been injured. This typically affects the lower body as well as the legs.
This occurs because the brain and the spinal cord can no longer communicate. The brain can’t send messages to the parts of the body that control movement and feeling.
In the case of an incomplete spinal cord injury, recovery may ultimately be possible. The spinal cord may eventually be able to send and receive messages to or from the brain. The affected nerves may still be intact, but just not working correctly due to the trauma. With time, those nerves could very well regain normal function.
Symptoms and Side Effects Associated with Spinal Cord Injuries
There are a lot of different symptoms and side effects associated with a spinal cord injury. Their severity will depend on where the spinal cord was affected. In most cases, the higher the location of the injury, the worse the symptoms will be. If, for instance, an injury affects the neck or the upper portion of the spinal cord, that will typically have a major impact on the respiratory system, making it hard to breathe.
If the injury occurs to the lower part of the spinal cord, that will often lead to an inability to control the legs, bowels or bladder. Sexual function may be damaged as well.
Spinal cord injuries can lead to a devastating condition known as quadriplegia, or a total loss of function in the legs as well as the arms.
Treatment Options Available for Spinal Cord Injury Patients
When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, they will sometimes require emergency surgery. This will especially be the case if there’s a chance the cord has been damaged by a broken bone or a blood clot. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes administered in order to help keep nerves functioning and also to help improve blood circulation.
In the case of a complete spinal cord injury, treatment will typically focus on helping to improve quality of life as much as possible, while reducing the risk of other health problems. There are instances where treatment can sometimes help restore nerve function.
One potentially promising form of treatment is known as a neural prosthetic. Neural prostheses work in somewhat the same way as prosthetic limbs. They are meant to replace lost nerves like limb prostheses are meant to replace lost arms or legs. A neural prosthetic is a type of electrical device that provides a connection to nerves in the injured area that are still able to function. This can sometimes allow a person to move parts of the body that were previously immobile.
Long-Term Effects of Spinal Injuries
Lots of times, an automobile accident or other type of accident will lead to back and/or neck pain. While obviously uncomfortable, this type of pain is usually temporary, with people eventually being able to return to normal. But a spinal cord injury often results in long-lasting effects that, in some circumstances, can even be life threatening. These include the following:
- Bladder dysfunction
- Involuntary, painful muscle spasms
- Cardiovascular problems
- Severe respiratory issues, including difficulty breathing, pneumonia and complete respiratory system failure
Receiving Compensation for a Long-Term Spinal Cord Injury
The costs associated with long-term damage to the spinal cord can be incredible. Some severe injuries can cost as much as $1 million in the first year alone. If this type of injury affects a younger person, the lifetime costs could amount to nearly $5 million.
Not only are there long-term medical costs to deal with the injury itself, but also the cost of treating any complications that may later develop, such as bladder infections, bedsores and others. There are also unexpected medical costs due to sudden trips to the emergency room and/or hospital, as well as caregiving costs.
Accident victims who suffer spinal cord injuries will also suffer loss of income due to an inability to work.
Contact a Minnesota Catastrophic Injury Attorney
In order to have the best chance possible to obtain the money needed for treatment, or to recover lost wages, accident victims need the help of a skilled attorney. An attorney can help uncover the evidence needed in order to prove a victim’s case beyond a shadow of a doubt – and to help that person obtain the compensation they deserve.
Sand Law has a team of attorneys with a great deal of experience – and a long track record of success – in helping spinal cord victims get the money they have coming to them. If you would like a free consultation, please give us a call at 651-291-7263 or contact us online.