Louisiana Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Experienced Spine Injury Lawyers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The spine is one of the body's most critical components. Each piece of the spinal column provides a protective structure for function and movement. As a result, injuries to the spinal column have serious repercussions. Our Louisiana spinal cord injury attorneys have the experience and care required to help those who have suffered catastrophic injuries—fighting to get them medical care while holding their wrongdoers accountable.
Facts from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC):
- Nearly 18,000 people experience a spinal cord injury each year in the United States.
- Approximately 288,000 people with spinal cord injuries are currently living in the U.S.
- Vehicle collisions are the leading cause of spinal cord injury.
Why Spinal Cord Injuries Are Serious
Spinal injuries often occur when trauma compresses the vertebrae in the neck. Once this happens, irreversible damage may be done. Like brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are serious because they can change the rest of a person's life. However, a common misconception is these injuries only result from a severed spine. In actuality, they are often the result of compressed vertebrae and destroyed axons (components of a nerve that carry key impulses down the spine). Once an axon is damaged, it can no longer effectively transmit signals for movement.
Depending on the area of damage to the spinal cord, two common types of paralysis may occur. Quadriplegia is the loss of motor functions in all four limbs, while paraplegia is the loss of function in the lower limbs. The severity of each injury will vary, and an individual's ability to move may return with time and rehabilitation.
Representing Victims of Paralysis Injuries in Louisiana & Nationwide
Paralysis is the complete loss of nerve and muscle function in one or more limbs. Roughly 1 in every 50 Americans live with paralysis—27% of these cases are caused by spinal cord injuries. Depending on the damage, paralysis can be total or partial. Regardless, paralysis profoundly affects a person's life and career. For those with jobs involving physical labor, including fishers, construction workers, contractors, truckers, or oil and gas industry workers, paralysis means the end of a stable income. For everyone, paralysis demands a significant shift in how they live and work. That shift is costly—emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
Types of Paralysis
Paralysis can affect any area of the body—it can be localized or generalized, partial or complete, and temporary or permanent. Localized paralysis affects only one part of your body, such as your face or hand. Different types of localized paralysis are often described by the number of limbs affected. For instance, cervical spine injuries (C1-C8) affect the spinal cord's upper portion and leaves victims with lost function in the arms and legs.
The higher the injury on the spine, the more severe the consequences, including:
- Loss of sensation
- Dysfunction of the bowel and bladder
- Needing a brace or permanent stabilization
- Inability to breathe without assistance
Thoracic spinal cord injuries (T1-T12) are the most common spinal injuries and affect the middle portion of the spine. This causes paralysis in the legs. Injuries below the thoracic spine are called lumbar spine injuries (L1-L5) and cause loss of motor function in the legs, leaving the upper limbs functional.
The following is a breakdown of how the location of the injury will impact the body:
- Cervical Section (C1 to C8): Controls the upper body, including the head, neck, and shoulders.
- Thoracic Spinal Nerves (T1 to T12): Controls the chest, portions of the back, and abdomen.
- Lumbar Spinal Nerves (L1 to L5): Supports the lower abdomen, back, legs, and genital organs.
- Sacral Spinal Nerves (S1 to S5): Sends signals to the thighs, feet, and anus.
When vertebrae are fractured, it is usually caused by trauma violent enough to damage the spine's generally resilient bones. Fractured vertebrae often result from falls, car accidents, assault, or sports injuries. These injuries are often painful, cause numbness, may result in a high fever, and cause the loss of motor control.
Types of spine fractures include:
- Compression fracture: This happens when a vertebra has its frontside broken while the back remains undamaged. An axial burst happens when the entire vertebra collapses.
- Flexion-distraction: Often seen with seatbelt injuries or whiplash, this type of spine fracture occurs when a vertebra is pulled apart.
- Transverse process: This involves a rotation of the vertebra.
- Fracture-dislocation: This injury involves broken vertebra and torn ligaments.
Spinal Cord Injury Complications
Spinal injuries are devastating as they may result in more than losing the victim's ability to move. These injuries may also significantly change the way the body can accomplish basic functions.
Injury complications include:
- Breathing: Victims may need to be placed on a ventilator after losing the ability to control their own respiratory functions.
- Irregular heartbeat: Injuries may cause the heart to function improperly. This may also be accompanied by low blood pressure.
- Spasms: These occur when the brain can no longer send signals to specific destinations.
- Pain: Because they send pain signals, damage to nerves may be extremely painful.
- Blood clots: Clots often form in limbs that can no longer function. This risk must be monitored and carefully managed.
- Incontinence: This occurs when the victim can no longer control the function of muscles needed for defecation and urination.
Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
Immediate medical attention should be sought after a spinal cord injury. Notably, the victim's spine should be immobilized by qualified emergency responders using a neck collar and stiff carrying board to help prevent worsening the injury. After, treatment for victims of spinal cord injuries is generally focused on restoring their lives with as much comfort and function as possible. Rehabilitation often focuses on breathing, preventing shock, and avoiding future damage and complications. Additionally, a patient may be given methylprednisolone within 8 hours of the injury. This drug reduces swelling around the spinal column, assisting in relieving pressure and reducing further damage to nerves. Finally, surgery may be required to decompress and stabilize the spine.
Rehabilitation for People with Paralysis
Although there is no cure for paralysis, rehabilitation can improve a patient's quality of life. The sooner muscles start working again after the spinal cord injury, the better the chances are of recovery.
Multiple specialists may be needed to ensure an effective recovery, including:
- Psychiatrists can help develop a long-term plan for handling the pain and emotional struggles.
- Rehab nurses can help with areas such as nutrition, self-care, breathing, and education.
- Occupational and physical therapists can encourage movement through everyday routines.
Check out the Reeve Foundation's brief look at the lifetime cost of paralysis treatment.
One of the most challenging aspects of the recovery process is physical therapy. Physical therapists focus on strengthening muscle function and teaching fine motor skills the individual may have lost. Additionally, therapists seek to help the victims learn how to live with their new challenges. Though it is necessary, some patients find the process's physical requirements and time commitments challenging. Ultimately, this process can be extremely costly as it can require expensive custom equipment and numerous doctors and specialists.
Our Louisiana Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Fight to Make Recovery Possible
Those who have sustained a spinal cord injury or are helping a loved one recover from this type of trauma must face many difficult choices during a highly tumultuous time. Patients and family members must often make quick medical decisions that will affect the injured person's long-term prognosis, even as they struggle to accept the reality of the situation. When a spinal cord injury results from another person's negligence, it is vitally important to hire a lawyer with a track record of winning these types of cases. At Arnold & Itkin, our Louisiana injury attorneys have won billions of dollars—helping our clients receive the best available care to ensure a better quality of life.
Call (888) 493-1629 or contact us online. You only pay if we win your case. Get a free consultation today!