Spinal cord injuries not only affect accident victims physically, but also emotionally and financially.
Managing your personal life, career, and finances is often a tough balancing act in the best case scenario. Living with a spinal cord injury only makes it more difficult. These injuries not only cost a fortune to treat. They also change what you’re physically able to do. Financial strains and mobility limitations can make anyone feel frustrated, helpless, and even depressed.
Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. Patients who’ve sustained complete spinal cord injuries totally lose their mobility and sensory functions. Some patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries can sense feeling and control their movements.
Over 80% of spinal cord injury patients either lose partial or full control of their bladders. Spasms, loss of sexual function, and organ failure are some of the other devastating effects a spinal cord injury can inflict.
Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury
Though spinal cord injuries are irreversible, technology and treatment have come a long way. There are measures that can possibly restore some functions and slow down deterioration.
Spinal Cord Injury Therapy
You have probably heard of conventional physiotherapy treatments like massage therapy, joint manipulation, and acupuncture. Those are just a few of the various types of spinal cord therapies. Depending on the type and severity of your spinal cord injury, your doctor could implement more aggressive treatment.
When you have a spinal cord injury, your lifestyle becomes more sedentary. Even muscles that weren’t directly affected by your injury can weaken if they’re not used. In therapy, muscle stretches prevent muscles from deteriorating. Muscle exercises can also stop spasticity, the stiffening and tightening of muscles. The exercises can stop or reduce spasms.
Activity-based therapies retrain the nervous system through repetitive muscle movements, strength training, and gait training. During functional electrical stimulation (FES), brief electrical pulses are sent to paralyzed or weakened muscles. It can help to improve or restore functions including breathing and bladder control.
Spinal Cord Injury Surgery
Since the spine is so delicate, the idea of having spinal cord injury surgery can make even the most fearless patient nervous. However, it can be worthwhile to explore. Undergoing surgery can restore function and prevent further damage. A surgeon can implement a variety of corrective measures including removing bone fragments or any other out of place objects, alleviating harmful pressure, and repairing fractures.
It’s normal to grieve the loss of the lifestyle you once had. Having an injury is also isolating. It can feel like no one else truly understands what you’re going through. Additionally, physical changes to the brain can change how spinal cord injury patients react emotionally. In a study comparing the brains of two groups with and without spinal cord injuries, the group with injuries proved to be more emotionally vulnerable.
Regaining Quality of Life
Learning new ways to function independently will help you to regain your quality of life. That could mean modifying your home or getting a car that is more accessible. Changes like adding wheelchair ramps or lowering a kitchen counter can get you back into your old habits.
If you’re having a difficult time emotionally, seek mental health care. Counseling, medication, or a combination of the two can help to treat anxiety and depression. Some spinal cord injury patients prefer support groups to one-on-one counseling because of the social aspect. It can also be comforting to speak to people who have been through what you’re going through.
Factors Associated with Low Quality of Life
Up to 94% of spinal cord injury patients experience chronic pain. Completing chores and routine tasks can feel excruciating. Pain can even be persistent when your body is at rest. Either pain or paralysis can prevent injured people from being active in their favorite hobbies. This is especially true for physical activities like sports.
Spinal cord injuries not only stop you from doing the things you love. They can also limit your ability to carry out errands and household responsibilities. Paying for transportation, cleaning services, and food preparation aren’t cheap. If your injury has also left you unable to work, supporting yourself with these added expenses can seem impossible.
Changes in Personality
Spinal cord injuries lead to chronic brain changes that can impact mood, memory, and virtually any other cognitive function. A person who was once the upbeat life of the party may suffer from mood swings. Moreover, the risks of these types of changes aren’t small. Up to 50% of people with spinal cord injuries develop some degree of cognitive impairment that may alter personality.
Loss of Consortium
A spinal injury can rob romantic partners of intimacy in their relationship. It can destroy their ability to show affection as well as to perform sexually. These often lead to dissatisfaction in a relationship, even when a couple had years of happiness behind them.
Not only can a spinal injury strip you of your ability to earn, it can also eat through your savings and completely destroy your livelihood. Spinal cord injuries cost the United States an estimated $9.7 billion annually. They’re one of the injuries that contribute to 66% of bankruptcies. Considering the fact that spinal cord injuries may require a lifetime of treatment, expenses can quickly spiral out of control.
Average Lifetime Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury
The lifetime cost of a spinal injury varies. It depends on factors like the victim’s age at the time of the accident and the severity of the injury. For a 25 year old, the lifetime cost of care ranges from close to $1,578,274 to just under $5 million.
Recovering Damages for Medical Costs
When a spinal cord injury is the result of another person’s negligence, you can seek compensation for expenses related to your injury. This includes the cost of doctors’ visits, hospitalization, as well as ongoing therapy. Even if the injury wasn’t recent, it’s still possible to collect compensation for damages. In Minnesota, the statute of limitations provides six years from the date of an accident to pursue compensation.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If a spinal cord injury is impacting your quality of life, a personal injury attorney can help you to secure the financial remedies you deserve. The devoted attorneys of Sand Law will carefully review the unique facts of your case and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us online or at 651-291-7263.