Spinal cord injuries are serious life altering injuries that occur most often from external causes such as car accidents and other traumatic events. The spinal cord, housed in the spine and neck, is extremely delicate and can be damaged very easily. The spinal cord is the pathway that sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body. Depending on the extent of the damage and its location in the cord, the physical consequences that result will vary degree of severity, and limbs or organs may not function as they did before, quite often leading to complete disability.
Types of Injuries
While each spinal cord injury is unique and will vary from another, spinal cord injuries can be categorized into two groups:
- Complete injury (where function below the level of the injury is lost); or
- Incomplete injury (where some functional ability or sensation is retained, so there may be some feeling but little movement or some movement with little feeling).
Along with impairing the functioning and sensation below the level of the injury, victims with complete injury often experience other complications related to the functional impairment, such as loss of controlled function of the bladder and bowel.
Often a spinal cord injury results in paralysis or weakness. The degree of paralysis depends on where the spinal cord is injury and the severity of the injury. For example, paraplegia is a paralysis or impairment of the lower extremities only, resulting from a spinal cord injury to the thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions. Quadriplegia (or tetraplegia) is paralysis and partial or total loss of all four limbs; arms, trunk and lower extremities, including the thorax (chest) caused by a spinal cord lesion at the neck level (cervical vertebrae).
Medical Care and Treatment
The best chance for recovery of function after a spinal cord injury is through prompt treatment. Early surgical decompression and stabilization provides the best change for recovery. Aggressive physical therapy and rehabilitation after surgery also maximizes the potential for recovery. It is within the first six months after injury that the majority of recovery occurs. Any remaining loss of function present after 12 months is more likely to become permanent.
Unfortunately, these debilitating injures are often permanent, as there is no cure at this time. This can be very difficult for anyone to have to deal with and it will require ongoing medical care. If your disability policy is denied with a spinal cord injury the lawyers at Taylor & Blair have the expertise to fight for you.