The spinal cord makes up part of the nervous system and runs the length of your neck and back. It cord has two main functions within the body, which are to communicate and co-ordinate. It is the nerves contained in the spinal cord that transmit the messages between your brain and body through nerve impulses. This also acts as a coordinating centre in order to generate simple reflex actions. It is because of these vital factors in our bodies function that a spinal cord injury can be so serious.
Injuries of the spine involve damage or trauma to the spinal cord that results in a loss of or impaired function, causing reduced mobility or feeling. In some cases a loss of movement occurs below the level of injury, which is known as paralysis. Although nearly 50% of all spinal cord injuries tend to be complete, the spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of functioning to occur. Cellular damage, including bruising and restricted blood flow, can also result in a loss of use.
Incomplete spinal injury is the term used to describe partial damage to the spinal cord. These types of injuries differ depending on the amount of damage caused and the area that has been affected, whether it is the front, centre or back of the spinal cord. The main types of incomplete spinal injury are anterior cord syndrome, central cord syndrome and brown-sequard syndrome. Each of these vary greatly in the symptoms they cause.
Not all injuries to the spine are associated with damage to the spinal cord itself. Some spinal injuries may just require a period of immobilisation or can be repaired with use of a rigid collar, brace or body jacket depending on the location of the fracture.
Many distinctive problems associated with spinal and spinal cord injury vary depending on the type and level of injury, including the disruption of temperature regulation, which causes sweating and shivering. Other processes, which can be affected following a spinal injury, are bowel and bladder management. The communicating nerve impulses that travel along the spine to the brain can be disrupted and can no longer travel normally, which can result in sufferers not being aware that their bladder or bowel is full.
Muscle spasticity can also become affected due to the changes that occur in the nerve cells that control muscle activity. Following a spinal injury, nerves below the injury become disconnected from those above causing muscle spasms to occur. Other common outcomes of spinal injury are blood pressure and respiratory complications. In some cases sufferers require the use of a ventilator to control their breathing pattern.
Injuries such as these require advice from specialist legal teams who are experienced and knowledgeable in the complex nature of the subject. Because of the often long-term nature of spinal injuries, victims need continuous support and extensive rehabilitation. This can often put a great deal of financial pressure on the family, who are already dealing with the trauma of the initial accident. By partnering with solicitors who specialise in serious injuries, that long-term help and care can be catered for and the financial burden reduced considerably.