Questions About Spinal Cord Injuries
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
What is spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when damage to the spinal cord results in loss of sensation and/or mobility. Someone can "break their neck or back" and not sustain SCI if, despite vertebrae (the bones around the spinal cord) being damaged, the spinal cord itself is not affected. The spinal cord, however, does not have to be severed for SCI to occur.
What causes spinal cord injury?
The most common causes of SCI in the U.S. are:
- Motor vehicle accident - automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of SCI (nearly 50 percent)
- Falls - falls are the leading cause of SCI in the elderly. Falls account for 22 percent of SCIs
- Violent acts - about 15 percent of SCIs are due to acts of violence, many involving gunshots and knife wounds
- Spots and recreational activities - activities such as impact sports and diving in shallow water cause about 8 percent of SCIs
- Diseases - including cancer, arthritis, spins bifida, polio, Friedreich's Ataxia, etc.
Who suffers from spinal cord injury?
Approximately 450,000 people in the U.S. live with SCIs and there are approximately new 8,000 SCIs each year. Most (82 percent) of SCIs are incurred by males between 16 and 30 years of age.
What are the effects of spinal cord injury?
The effects of SCI depend on the level of the spinal cord in which the injury occurred, and the type of injury. The type of injury may be complete, which generally results in no voluntary movement, function or sensation below the level of the injury. An incomplete injury results in some voluntary movement, function or sensation below the level of the injury, sometimes in some limbs or side of the body. Advances in acute SCI treatment are making complete injuries less common.
A lesion in the brain or one of the top eight (cervical) segments of the spinal cord may result in quadriplegia, which is characterized by at least partial paralysis in all four limbs. Another condition sometimes resulting from incomplete SCIs, or SCIs in lower segments of the spinal cord is paraplegia, in which the lower half of the body, including the legs, are affected. Quadriplegia is slightly more common than paraplegia.
Is there a cure for spinal cord injury?
While exciting advances, such as certain steroid drugs, have shown success in reducing damage if administered shortly after the injury, there is currently no cure for SCI.
It is theorized that the promising experimental drug Sygen may help protect against further nerve cell death after the injury, and even stimulate nerve-fiber repair and growth.
Do the conditions caused by spinal cord injury ever improve?
SCI often results in swelling of the spinal cord. Some function or sensation may be regained after the swelling subsides, especially in incomplete injuries. Some recovery has been noted as late as 18 months after the injury, and in rare cases as late as years after. Full recovery, however, is extremely rare.
If a loved one or I received a spinal cord injury, do I need a lawyer?
In short, yes. An investigation will need to be done quickly and skillful experts will need to be made available to establish liability for the injury, provide medical support to describe the suffering you or your loved one has gone through, and to make a full accounting of the pain, suffering and financial challenges you or you and your loved ones have endured and are likely to face.