When the spinal cord is damaged, the brain is unable to properly communicate through the nervous system, often leading to paralysis, pain, and other medical complications. If certain areas of the spinal cord become pinched or compressed, the body may face a wider range of symptoms, from tingling sensations to lack of control over the bladder.
Trauma to the spine can be caused by a virtually unlimited number of situations, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, or workplace incidents. In a single moment, an otherwise strong and healthy person may be facing lifelong paralysis or other severe medical complications due to this catastrophic injury. X-rays, CT scans, and MRI’s can be used to determine the extent and location of the damage incurred, so that doctors can develop a diagnosis.
What is Considered Spinal Cord Damage?
Spinal cord damage can include a number of situations, such as:
- Cauda equina syndrome, which occurs when the spinal cord is compressed due to an injury, swelling, or a build up of fluids, increases in severity based on how long the spinal cord is compressed. Even the span of a few hours can mean the difference between full recovery and paralysis. Effects can include numbness, loss of bladder control, paralysis, and chronic pain.
- Dislocation of vertebrae usually occurs due to a sudden impact to the head or neck and can cause spinal cord injuries.
- Misalignment/subluxation of vertebrae refers to vertebrae that have become partially detached or misaligned, and can potentially damage the spinal cord.
Although some damage to the spinal cord may be permanent and lead to lifelong difficulties, surgical repair may alleviate some symptoms. Treatment options for spinal cord injuries can include surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and medications such as corticosteroids or muscle relaxants.
Due to the severe nature of spinal cord damage, the costs of diagnosis and treatment can place enormous financial burdens on the patient and their family. Long-term care is commonly needed, which can require years of expensive treatment. In addition to the cost of hospital visits, tests, and medication, an individual may lose their ability to earn an income and may require long-term care.
Modern Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries
As little as a half century ago, any type of injury to the spinal cord was usually fatal. These days, while it’s still not possible to reverse the damage, modern technology has combined with research and development to provide major improvements with regard to the ability of victims of spinal cord injuries to recover to a significant degree after accident.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Should Be Handled After An Accident
These days, medical personnel know a lot more than they used to about spinal cord injuries and how to minimize their long-term effects, usually starting with the care of first responders immediately after an injury. The first thing they will do when treating someone who is suspected of having a spinal cord injury is to check and verify that the heart is beating and they are breathing properly. Injuries to the upper neck can result in a loss of control over the ability to breeze, which can mean a breathing tube or ventilator is needed to stabilize the victim.
The next thing emergency medical responders will do is to attempt to immobilize the area where they believe the spinal cord injury has occurred, because moving the spine after such an injury can result in further damage. By using such tools as a cervical collar and a backboard, they can prevent the spine from moving further. After the initial treatment and stabilization, the patient is then transported to the hospital, where doctors usually use spinal cord surgery to further stabilize the spine itself and to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
Post-surgery treatment for spinal cord injury in Alice will usually focus on even further stabilization to prevent further injury, followed by aggressive physical therapy and rehabilitation, because that is now believed to be the best way to help maximize the patient’s chance of recovery. That said, even with the best available medical care, many spinal cord injury victims will not experience any meaningful recovery of sensation or mobility in the affected areas. Moreover, most of the recovery that does occur will happen within the first six months after the spinal cord injury. It is believed that any loss of function that is still present a year after the injury is likely permanent.
Advancements in Treating Spinal Cord Injuries
All is not lost however; technology has brought us a number of new medical techniques and very sophisticated devices that can assist with spinal cord injury victims leading lives that are actually quite active and productive, albeit within the limits their disability affords them. There are also an increasing number of medical professionals capable of helping spinal cord injury victims make their very long and very arduous rehabilitation process bear more fruit than anyone ever thought possible just a few years ago. These professionals, including psychiatrists orthopedists, urologists, occupational and physical therapists, nurses who specialize in rehabilitation, and vocational therapists can all make a difference with regard to the spinal injury victim’s personal well-being. That’s the good news; the victim of a spinal cord injury has a better chance than ever before of living a life that is at least approaching normal.
The bad news is, the cost of everything required to bring some semblance of normalcy to a spinal cord injury victim’s life is nothing short of enormous. During the first year alone, the average medical costs to the victim of a severe spinal cord injury come to more than $400,000, with some victims who are currently in their late 20s facing as much as $2 million in lifetime medical costs. Obviously, most people don’t have the financial means to pay for all of this, in addition to the money to pay for the daily expenses that they incur as a normal part of life. Even fewer people have the means to pay for all of the equipment and the care necessary for them to live what many would consider a full and satisfying life. A few benefits can possibly be obtained through private health insurance or even some government programs, but they will never fully meet the long-term needs of the patient with severe spinal cord injury, which is why calling an Alice attorney is essential.
Learn Your Options from an Alice Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has received a spinal cord injury due to the negligent actions of another party, our Alice spinal cord injury lawyers may be able to help you seek out compensation for your damages. Our team has guided clients through a wide range of situations, and we can use our extensive legal knowledge and trial experience to help you get what you deserve. Call us today.