Louisiana Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Experienced Baton Rouge Spine Injury Lawyers
The spine is one of the most critical components of our bodies. Each piece of the spinal column provides a protective structure for our ability to function and move. 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
Like brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are serious because they have the potential to permanently change the rest of a person's life. A spinal cord injury often occurs when trauma compresses the vertebrae in the neck. Once this happens, irreversible damage may be done to areas of the spinal column.
Injuries occurring at the highest section, referred to as the cervical level, are enough to cause paralysis to portions of the body. Damage to the middle of the spinal column results in paralysis to the lower half of the body and a loss of function in both legs. Spinal cord damage is classified as complete or incomplete depending on the amount of damage. This means that individuals may completely lose their motor functions depending on how much information the column is still able to carry.
The following portions of the spine control specific movements:
- Cervical Section (C1 to C8): This portion controls the movement of the upper body, including the head, neck, and shoulders.
- Thoracic Spinal Nerves (T1 to T12): This portion of the spine controls the chest muscles and portions of the back and abdomen.
- Lumbar Spinal Nerves (L1 to L5): This portion of the spinal column that supports the lower abdomen, back, legs and genital organs.
- Sacral Spinal Nerves (S1 to S5): This portion sends signals to the thighs, feet, and anus. The S5 portion also contains the coccygeal nerves, which provide sensory sensitivity to the skin.
There is a common misconception that these injuries only result from a severed spine. Instead, they are often results of compressed vertebrae and destroyed axons from the resulting displacement of the bones. Axons are the components of a nerve that carry the impulses needed for movement. Once an axon is damaged, it can no longer effectively transmit signals for movement throughout the spinal column.
Depending on the area of damage to the spinal cord, two common types of paralysis may occur. Quadriplegia is a result of damage to the cervical section of the spine. Individuals with this type of paralysis experience the loss of motor functions in all four limbs. Paraplegia is the loss of function in the lower limbs and is a result of damage to the thoracic spinal nerves. The severity of each spinal injury will vary, and an individual’s ability to move may return with time and rehabilitation. However, paralysis caused by spinal injuries is often something individuals experience for the rest of their life.
When a fracture happens to vertebrae, it is usually caused by severe and powerful trauma violent enough to damage the generally resilient and strong bones of the spine. These injuries are often painful, cause numbness, may result in a high fever and cause the loss of motor control. Fractured vertebrae often result from falls, car accidents, assault or sports injuries and are classified into major categories.
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 the loss of the victim’s ability to move. These injuries may also significantly change the way the body is able to accomplish basic functions.
Injury complications include:
- Breathing: Spinal injury 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.
- Blood clots: These often form in limbs that are no longer able to function. This risk must be monitored and carefully managed after trauma.
- Spasms: These occur when the brain is no longer able to send signals to specific destinations.
- Pain: Because they send pain signals, damage to nerves may be an extremely painful.
- Incontinence: This occurs when the victim is no longer able to control the function of muscles needed for defecation and urination.
- Reproductive and sexual loss: Issues with sex are more common with males than females. After some spinal cord injuries, some men are no longer able to achieve erections.
Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
As with most traumas, immediate medical attention should be sought out when a traumatic spinal cord injury is suspected. Importantly, the victim’s spine should be immobilized by qualified emergency responders soon after an incident. Immobilizing the spine and transporting the victim using a neck collar and stiff carrying board helps to prevent worsening the injury.
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 to relieve pressure and reduce further damage to nerves. Finally, surgery may be required to decompress and stabilize the spine.
One of the most difficult aspects of the recovery process is physical therapy. Though it is necessary, some patients find the physical requirements and time commitments of the process challenging. Physical therapists focus on strengthening muscle function that still exists and work to teach the victim fine motor skill they may have lost. Additionally, therapists seek to help the victim learn how to live their daily life with their new physical challenges. Oral medications are also combined with braces and other orthopedic procedures to assist the functional abilities of spinal cord injury victim. Ultimately, this process can be extremely costly as it can require expensive custom equipment and numerous doctors, therapists and specialists.
Our Louisiana Spinal Cord Lawyers Fight to Make Recovery Possible
Those who have sustained a spinal cord injury or is helping a loved one recover from this type of trauma must face many difficult choices during an extremely 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 is the result of another person's negligence, it is vitally important to hire a lawyer with a track record of winning these types of cases.
It is important to have a lawyer who can help make sure that the injured person receives the best medical care and hold the responsible parties accountable. During such difficult times, consulting with a Louisiana spine injury attorneycan help the victim's family make the choices that will result in that individual receiving the best available care. At Arnold & Itkin, our injury attorneys have won billions of dollars for personal injury victims, helping them receive the best available care to ensure a better quality of life.
Call (888) 493-1629 or contact us online to review your legal options with Arnold & Itkin. You only pay if we win your case—get a free consultation today!