Whether you suffered a serious spinal cord injury in a work accident, car accident or some other accident that was due to the negligence of another person, you have rights. This type of injury affects you for the rest of your life. Even if you make a full recovery, it could take a significant amount of time and resources.
Doctors often use technical terms that make it difficult to understand what actually occurred when you suffered your injury. Without a general understanding of this injury, the way doctors describe the injuries often inspires fear and anxiety.
What happens when someone suffers a spinal cord injury?
Axons, which are long nerve fibers, make up the spinal cord, which the vertebrae and myelin (an insulating material that acts like a sheath) encase for protection. The axons carry nerve impulses throughout your body. Impulses travel downward from your brain and back up from the body. Different sections of axons control messages to and from certain parts of the body.
When an injury occurs to the spinal cord, an interruption of the messages between the brain and the body happens. The more severe the injury, the fewer messages get through. In general, the higher on the body the injury to the spine occurs, the greater the number of the body’s functions that become affected.
- Injuries between C1 and C8, the cervical spine (the neck), affect messages between the neck, arms and hands and the brain. Quadriplegics suffer injuries to the cervical region of the spinal cord.
- Injuries between T1 and T12, the thoracic spine, affect messages between the arms, the torso and the brain.
- Injuries between L1 and L5, the lumbar spine, affect messages between the abdominals, the legs down to the knees and the brain.
- Injuries between S1 and S5, the sacral spine, affect messages between some parts of the legs, the toes and the groin and the brain.
The severity of the damage done to your spinal column dictates your recovery. Most people assume that severe damage only occurs when an injury cuts the spinal cord, but most injuries involve bruising of an intact spinal cord. Sadly, lifelong damage and debilitating injuries result from bruising just as much as the cutting of the spinal cord.
You mentioned a complete vs. incomplete injury. What does that mean?
A complete spinal cord injury means that you lose all control to the areas of the body that lie below where the trauma occurred. An incomplete injury allows some sensory impulses to get through and provides you with some motor function because the damage was not total.
The above comprises only a fraction of the information available regarding spinal cord injuries. Research remains ongoing by organizations such as the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Any permanent damage done to your spinal cord cannot be reversed. You will more than likely require some level of care for the rest of your life. Even if you retain or regain control of your motor functions, you could still suffer the repercussions of the injury.
Your ability to work, perform daily tasks and otherwise enjoy life suffers, along with your financial life. If you believe another person or persons caused your injuries, you would more than likely benefit from talking to an attorney. A personal injury claim that establishes that negligence through applicable evidence could result in an award of damages to help with your past, present and future medical and other needs.