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 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.
To fully maximize the benefits that modern technology has to offer the modern spinal cord injury victim, it will probably be necessary to file a claim against those responsible, which means finding an attorney with the skills and knowledge to explain to a judge or jury exactly what is needed and get the compensation necessary to make sure that happens. The Personal Injury Attorneys at the Gutierrez Law Firm can help make that happen for you or any loved one suffering from a spinal cord injury.