The spinal cord is responsible for relaying brain signals and messages throughout our bodies. It’s what allows us to do everything from walk to move our limbs, stand, sit, exercise, and enjoy a mobile life. The spinal cord is also exceptionally fragile. It’s protected by our spinal column and each individual vertebra. When the spine is injured in an accident, the sensitive spinal cord inside can easily become damaged. Oftentimes, there is no way for a victim to recover from a serious spinal cord injury.
If you’ve been hurt in an incident like a car accident, truck accident, or slip and fall accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation if you sustained serious spinal cord injuries. This compensation can go towards your recovery and towards the overall process of moving forward with your life despite your injuries. An Atlanta, GA spinal cord injury lawyer can help. First, here are some facts about injuries related to the spinal cord/column and back.
A Brief Glance at Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Statistics
According to data gathered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are approximately 17,000 new spinal cord injuries every year in the United States. This is a significant number. As of 2016, it’s estimated that there are over 282,000 people in the U.S. who suffer from a spinal cord injury.
When an individual suffers from a serious spinal cord injury, the most common symptom is related to complete or partial loss of sensation and/or movement of the limbs (paralysis). Injuries are generally categorized as either complete or incomplete. Complete means that the individual has no sensation or voluntary movement of those limbs while incomplete means that some level of functionality may still be present. Victims of incomplete spinal cord injuries can sometimes move one side of the body but not the other or feel climbs they cannot move.
Spinal cord injuries are also typically categorized by the area of the body that is affected. Paraplegia describes the function of the lower half of the body including the legs while tetraplegia describes the function of all four limbs including the full torso. Other terms that sometimes get used to describe injuries include paraparesis (partial paralysis of lower limbs), quadriparesis (partial paralysis of all four limbs), and quadriplegia (complete paralysis of all four limbs).
Since 2010, approximately 45% of spinal cord injury victims have suffered from incomplete tetraplegia. 21% have suffered from incomplete paraplegia. 20% have suffered from complete paraplegia. Approximately 13% have suffered from complete tetraplegia. Only 0.4% of spinal cord injury victims since 2010 have experienced a full recovery.
The statistics are grim. Victims of serious spinal cord injuries rarely experience a full recovery. Once the spinal cord becomes damaged, there is rarely a way to reverse that damage. This fact is unfortunate, but with the help of physical therapy, some spinal cord injury patients can regain partial feeling or usage of their limbs. Other patients can retain a mobile life with the help of motorized wheelchairs and other accessories and equipment.
Common Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries
The most common symptoms of a serious spinal cord injury are related to complete or partial paralysis. After an accident like a car crash, symptoms may appear in a delayed manner. A simple backache can turn into a condition much more severe. When the spinal cord is damaged, a victim may not feel pain at all. This is why it’s vital for accident victims to receive immediate medical attention regardless of the severity of their symptoms.
These are the most common symptoms of spinal cord injury:
- Varying degrees of paralysis
- Numbness or tingling in the external limbs
- Chronic pain anywhere in the body (the neck and back are the most common areas)
- Nerve pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty with bladder or bowel function
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are many causes for spinal cord injuries. Most are traumatic in nature and can lead to other debilitating conditions with lifelong consequences. These are among the most common direct causes:
- Car accidents – Being in a serious car crash can cause severe back and neck trauma which can damage the sensitive spinal cord and column.
- Truck accidents – Truck accidents are inherently more devastating than car accidents and can lead to serious neck and back injuries including spinal cord injury—especially if the victim’s vehicle is crushed or rolls over.
- Sports accidents – Contact sports can be dangerous, especially when players are not properly protected.
- Motorcycle accidents – Motorcyclists tend to suffer from devastating injuries when they experience a collision with another vehicle or spin out of control suddenly.
- Acts of unnatural violence (such as gunshot wounds) – Gunshot wounds are the most common violent crime that leads to spinal cord trauma.
- Workplace accidents such as construction accidents – Workplace machinery can seriously injure an employee if a piece of equipment malfunctions or is used negligently.
- Slip and fall accidents – In hazardous conditions, an accident where an individual trips or slips and falls as a result (often referred to as a slip-and-fall accident) can lead to serious injuries. Anytime the neck or back sustains injury, the spinal cord is inevitably placed at risk.
A Georgia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you or someone you love suffered from a spinal cord injury that resulted from an accident that wasn’t the victim’s fault, you may feel as if there is little reason to feel hope. The costs of these types of injuries can be tremendous, and most insurance companies will offer little to no help in regards to paying for continuous care such as physical therapy or in-home services. With the help of an Atlanta, GA spinal cord injury lawyer, you can get the financial assistance you need to seek the recommended treatment options.
In addition, filing a spinal cord injury lawsuit against the guilty party can ensure that no one comes to harm again at the hands of the same individual and/or corporation. Lawsuits help protect American citizens and Georgia residents from harm—today and in the future. For more information, don’t hesitate to give Bey & Associates a call today. We can help your family move forward.