Looking at Spinal Cord Injuries

Each year there are approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injuries throughout the United States. Any form of injury that affects the spinal cord causing inhibition of movement, inability to function properly or receive certain sensations is classified as a spinal cord injury (SCI). Harm to the spinal cord can be minimal and yet the effects may be devastating. The spinal cord does not even have to be detached in order for the individual to have serious consequences from this type of damage.

Sadly, injuries to the spinal cord are somewhat common as there are about 255,000 Americans dealing with this type of pain on an everyday basis. Men have a higher likelihood of experiencing spinal cord damage if you consider the statistics that 78 percent of these injuries happen to males, while only 22 percent of the injuries occur with females. Typically there is extensive treatment that must be performed by the patient and they must remain hospitalized for more than two weeks before being discharged. Even after the initial recovery period is over, most patients with spinal cord injuries need months in a rehabilitation center to return to a normal life.

Symptoms of Severe Spine Injuries

After a traumatic accident, if it is suspected that anyone involved may have suffered serious spinal cord injuries, ambulance will typically transport them to a hospital immediately. Due to the fact that the spinal column is so fragile and extensive damage could be life threatening, they must move quickly and assess the situation before symptoms get any worse.

Medical personnel look for symptoms including the following:

  • Intense pain in the neck, head or back region
  • Sensation of pressure/sharp pain around the chest
  • Tingling throughout their fingers, hands, feet or toes
  • Trouble breathing
  • Inability to control bladder or bowel movements
  • Difficulty having control over bodily functions
  • Trouble with balance and walking properly
  • Apparent bumps or abnormal protrusions around the head or spine
  • Change in mental state of mind

The symptoms that are experienced by a patient can be clear indicators what areas of the spine have been most affected. It may provide more clarity on the next step that a doctor should take in treating the patient's condition.

Testing: Understanding the Damage

If the physician on hand determines that there is a possibility for an SCI, various tests may be performed and blood work will always be taken. There are multiple radiological exams that the doctor may choose from depending on the type of injury and where the patient was affected. By choosing the appropriate test or utilizing all three, the physician may be able to determine how extensive the damage was and what step to take next.

X-rays are a typical evaluation that can show if there is any part of the spine that is severed, broken or out of alignment. Performing a CT scans are typically offered in larger medical centers and patients may go straight into this type of testing without receiving an x-ray first. It takes images and compiles the anatomy of the actual bones in the spine to find if there are any that are fractured. The most comprehensive test is the MRI which looks for blood clots, herniated discs and other material interfering with the spine by visualizing the entire spinal cord.

Considering Treatment

Any time that passes between the point of injury and treatment can be cause for further harm. That is why it is essential that those who have fallen victim to spinal cord injuries seek medical assistance right away. Steroids are often given to the patient to help reduce swelling and deflect any further injury to the nerve cells. When certain steroids are given within 8 hours of the injury, the patient may retrieve some of their functional movement, but if the time elapsed is too long there may not be a chance of recovery of certain abilities.

Paralysis can often be a result of more severe injuries to the spinal cord and may require surgery and rehabilitation. It has been recorded that 52% of spinal cord related injuries result in paraplegia while 47% are quadriplegic in nature. With these types of life-altering changes, it can be emotionally taxing, frustrating and damaging to the patient's overall outlook. Therapists, neurologists, nursing staff, specialists and family members will all have to step in and help to take care of a patient with any form of paralysis. Rehabilitation can be helpful for most individuals, but it takes time and effort on the part of everyone involved.

Various equipment and extensive therapy is often needed to recover any sort of normalcy after this type of accident. If the individual has lost the ability to feed themselves they may require a feeding tube and if they can no longer move to go to the restroom, get out of bed or bathe, a ceiling lift may be a necessity. The only major issue is that all of these items cost exponential amounts of money.

Without a wheelchair, ventilators and a supply of oxygen for some patients, they cannot maintain a certain quality of life. Most families, however, cannot afford to pay for such apparatuses and must take extensive time to care for their loved ones on top of all the stress they are already dealing with. Pursuing a personal injury claim for catastrophic injuries such as this may prove beneficial in getting necessary financial compensation.

Finding Adequate Representation

As the results of such an injury can last a lifetime, any claim for compensation for damages must be approached carefully with the full details of the case, who was involved, where it happened, and any other vital evidence before proceeding. We know that your family's future is at stake and that the case must be carefully developed and documented in the event that a lifetime of care is needed for your loved one. These types of injuries can cause massive emotional distress and upheaval and it is important that your attorney is compassionate and understanding of your situation. At Ward Smith, PLLC, we are concerned with our clients' welfare and take the job of representing them as a personal crusade. Please do not hesitate to contact our office to learn more about how we can assist you during this difficult time.

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