Between 400,000 and 500,000 Americans have a suffered spinal cord injury.
Some spinal cord injuries, like spina bifida and Friedreich’s ataxia, come from inherited conditions. Polio was another significant cause, prior to the discovery of the Salk vaccine.
However, the most likely cause of spinal cord injury is physical trauma. In many cases, severe damage to the spinal cord results from another person’s negligent conduct. If this happened to you or a member of your family, protect your legal rights by consulting an attorney immediately.
Anatomy of a Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord, along with the brain, makes up the central nervous system. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that runs from the brain down to about the waist. A column of protective bones, known as vertebrae, surrounds this bundle of nerves.
A spinal cord injury is defined as damage to the spinal cord, which causes a loss of function to the body. Frequently, this loss of function is total or partial paralysis and/or a lack of physical sensation.
It is possible to suffer a serious injury, such as a ruptured disc, and not damage the spinal cord. Thus, broken vertebrae in the neck or back (i.e. a broken back) may be less serious than injury to the spinal cord itself.
When a spinal cord injury does occur, the extent of injury often relates directly to the level on the spinal cord where the trauma occurred. Injury to the cervical portion of the cord, the area associated with the neck, often results in quadriplegia, the total paralysis of the arms and legs. If the injury occurs to the mid-section of the spinal column or thoracic region, the result is paraplegia, the paralysis of the lower body. Lower spinal column or lumbar region injury can cause paralysis of the legs or loss of sensation and/or some loss of lower mobility.
Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
There still is no cure for spinal cord injuries, although modern research continues to provide hope for future treatments. The most encouraging recent breakthroughs are medications administered shortly after injury, which reduce the spinal cord swelling and lessen the severity of injury. Most of these medications are steroid-based. One of the most common is called methylprednisolone.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
- Approximately 10,000 new spinal cord injuries are reported in the United States every year. Many of these injuries result from the unintentional, but improper, actions of others. In legal terms, this is “negligent conduct.”
- Young males have a statistically greater chance of sustaining a spinal cord injury. Over 80% of the new traumatic spinal cord injuries in this country happen to males between the ages of 16 and 30.
- Approximately 36% of traumatic spinal cord injuries resulted from automobile accidents.
- 21% of traumatic spinal cord injuries are linked to falls.
- About 29% result from violence, including gunshot wounds.
- About 85% of spinal cord injury victims who survive the first day after injury are still alive ten years later.
The Financial Impact of Injuries
The cost of a serious injury can be catastrophic. This is an extreme hardship when the injuries make work impossible and rent, gas, and medical bills start to accumulate. Our law firm will help you recover these costs from the insurance company or the at-fault party. If you or a loved one suffered a serious accident involving a spinal cord injury, talk with an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer.