Paralysis and Spinal Cord Injuries
Learning that you or a loved one must live with paralysis or a spinal cord injury is devastating, life-altering news. An accident can happen when you least expected a positive way to deal with such overwhelming news is to learn as much as you can about the injury, the affected person’s rights and how to cope. There is a tough road ahead, but with a little planning and a positive attitude, everything will be fine. If you or your loved one has suffered paralysis or a spinal cord injury contact our Miami attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank.
The spinal cord is made up of nerve cells that send signals up and down the cord and into other parts of the body. The information received allows us to move, walk, run, sit, stand and even breathe. A spinal cord injury is brought about by trauma. Usually leading to paralysis, spinal cord injuries involve damage to part of the spinal cord or to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. These injuries often cause permanent changes in strength, mobility, sensation and other functions. Mobility and control of limbs after an injury depends on the injured area along the spinal cord and the severity of the damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, the severity of the injury is often called the “completeness,” and is classified as:
- Complete. If almost all feeling (sensory) and all ability to control movement (motor function) are lost below the spinal cord injury, your injury is called complete.
- Incomplete. If you have some motor or sensory function below the affected area, your injury is called incomplete. There are varying degrees of incomplete injury.
Additionally, paralysis from a spinal cord injury may be referred to as:
- Tetraplegia or quadriplegia. This means your arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs are all affected by your spinal cord injury.
- Paraplegia. This paralysis affects all or part of the trunk, legs and pelvic organs.
Loss of function and mobility can occur even when the spinal cord is not severed. The initial trauma can cause cell damage, blocking the flow of information between the brain and the spinal cord. The spinal cord can be stretched, bruised or otherwise compromised due to accident. Because the spinal cord’s main function is to send and receive messages from the brain to the body’s sensory system that controls motor and function, when the spinal cord is damaged, function becomes permanently impaired. The body is not able to replace lost cells when the spinal cord is injured, which is why many people end up with severe movement and sensation problems.Causes
There are many causes for spinal cord injuries, but all are brought about by trauma, and not disease.
- Motor vehicle accidents – automobile and motorcycle accidents account for the majority of all spinal cord injuries.
- Sports injuries – athletes are highly susceptible to spinal cord injuries.
- Acts of violence/assault – many gunshot and knife wounds lead to severe spinal cord damage.
- Industrial accidents – workplace incidents, especially in the industrial field can occur when safety standards have been compromised.
- Falls – falls account for more than 25% of spinal cord injuries, especially after age 65.
There is no way to treat or reverse spinal cord injury. Most physicians will focus on preventing any further damage and assisting those affected with living productive, active lives. In certain cases, surgery can help with pain management and with improving mobility. In other cases, immobilization (stabilizing the spine) is done in order to aid the patient and medications are given for pain. Physicians are also concerned with preventing secondary problems that may arise, such as respiratory infections, blood clots and deconditioning of muscles. Additionally, rehabilitation services can help patients lead more productive, independent lives.
When spinal cord and paralysis occurs, every aspect of your life will be affected. Although there’s no way for your life to return 100% to “normal,” i.e. before the accident, there are ways to live a productive life. If you or a loved one has suffered paralysis or a spinal cord injury, we recommend that you speak with a Miami personal injury attorney at Friedman, Rodman & Frank. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us toll free at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation.