A spinal cord injury is defined as “damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It is estimated there are 12,000 new incidences of spinal cord injury cases each year in the United States. A spinal cord injury can affect not only your physical, emotional and mental well being but your social and financial health as well.
If you or a loved one has a spinal cord injury, click here to schedule your free consultation with an attorney at Goodin Abernathy LLP.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Typically, a spinal cord injury does not involve the spinal cord being severed as you may see in the movies. An impact can cause a fracture or dislocation of vertebrae. The vertebrae then rip into the spinal cord tissue or compress the nerves. When this happens, paralysis may occur. Common causes of spinal cord injuries include vehicular accidents, falls, violence/assaults, trampolines, swimming/diving accidents, and other sports injuries.
Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury may be described as complete or incomplete. When a person can’t feel anything below the injury or can’t control any movement, it is considered a complete spinal cord injury. If there is some ability to move or feel below the injury, it is incomplete. Whether or not you can control your limbs after an injury to the spine will depend upon how severe the injury is and where along the spine it occurred. No matter what, a spinal cord injury needs medical attention.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
The Mayo Clinic lists several symptoms spinal cord injury victims may experience. These include but are not limited to:
• Loss of movement and sensation in back or any part of your body
• Spasms and twisted neck or back
• Pain, pressure or stinging sensations in back, neck or head
• Numbness and tingling in extremities such as hands, feet, fingers and toes
• Impaired balance and difficulty walking
• Loss of bladder or bowel control
• Problems breathing or coughing
• Changes in sexual function, sensitivity and/or fertility
How is a spinal cord injury diagnosed?
If you think someone has suffered a spinal cord injury, seek medical attention. In an emergency room, a doctor may perform a basic evaluation to determine if the spinal cord is damaged. However, it is likely medical tests will need to be performed. These tests may include X-rays, a CT (computerized tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). A neurological exam may be performed after any swelling has subsided.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatments
Treatments for spinal cord injuries vary depending on the patient and type of injury. Spinal cord damage cannot be reversed but medical technology may be able to help improve nerve function after an injury. Long-term care and treatment may be necessary depending on the severity of the injury. The National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) offers resources and programs for people suffering from spinal cord injuries.
How to prevent Spinal Cord Injuries
Accidents do happen, but you can help prevent potential spinal cord injuries by driving safely, using proper safety precautions when working at heights and following safety rules when engaged in athletic competitions.
If you believe you have had a spinal cord injury, schedule your free consultation with one of our injury attorneys.
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