Spinal Cord Injury
The hard bones of the spinal column protect the soft tissues of the spinal cord, but if vertebrae are broken or dislocated, they can cause traumatic injury to the spinal cord. Injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord. Depending on which segment of the cord is injured, and how severely, a person may lose some or all of their motor and sensory function beneath the injury. Because the spinal cord is the main conveyor belt for information from the brain to the rest of the body, a spinal cord injury can have significant consequences.
Any kind of physical trauma that crushes or compresses the vertebrae in the neck can cause irreversible damage at the cervical level of the spinal cord and below. Injuries occurring this high up will likely cause paralysis throughout the body, including both arms and legs (this condition is called quadriplegia, because it affects all four limbs). Spinal cord damage in the middle back (the thoracic or lumbar area) can cause paralysis that is limited to the lower half of the body and the legs (a condition called paraplegia, because it affects two limbs).
Facts about Spinal Cord Injury from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center
- Approximately 10,000 to 12,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries every year in the United States
- 250,000 Americans currently live with spinal cord injuries
- Each year, it costs almost $4 billion to manage the care of spinal cord injury victims
Most injuries to the spinal cord don't completely sever it. Instead, injuries cause fractures or compression of the vertebrae, and the displaced bones destroy axons, which are nerve cell extensions that carry signals through the spinal cord to the brain and the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury can damage some or all of these axons; depending on the number of axons lost, an individual may be able to recover from the injury or may be permanently paralyzed.
Complete or Incomplete Injury
Spinal cord injuries can be classified as complete or incomplete, depending on how much cord width is injured. An incomplete injury means the ability cord has retained some ability to convey messages to or from the brain. People with incomplete injuries retain some function; a complete injury results in a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury.
Types of Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries
There a number of different kinds of treatments for spinal injuries, starting from the moment of the injury’s acquisition to years afterward, and the medical field is constantly exploring new ways to reverse paralysis in spinal cord injury victims. Some of these treatments include the following:
- Immediate stabilizing of the spine
- Methylprednisolone helps reduce damage to nerve cells and decrease inflammation near the site of the injury.
- Surgery may be necessary to remove items that are compressing the spine, or to stabilize it to prevent future pain or deformity.
- A rehabilitation team will likely include a physical therapist, occupational therapist, rehabilitation nurse, rehabilitation psychologist, social worker, dietitian, recreation therapist, and a doctor with expertise in physical medicine or spinal cord injuries.
- Injections of medications like phenol and Botox directly into the muscle
- Surgical implantation of a device known as an intrathecal baclofen pump can deliver medication directly to the brain and spinal cord, targeting spasticity in both the lower and upper limbs. Patients must submit to a trial period to see if they are good candidates for pump implantation
- Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a therapy that improves functional abilities. FES uses computer technology to send low-level electrical impulses to muscles in the legs, arms, hands, or other areas, causing them to contract.
- Music therapy is a new treatment method that addresses the cognitive, speech/language, physical, and psychosocial needs of a patient, using Neurologic Music Therapy techniques. Music therapy can help facilitate functional movements and/or cognitive and speech behaviors.
Receiving Compensation for Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries
We at Arnold & Itkin LLC dedicate our practice to advocating for the wrongfully injured. If you or a loved one has innocently suffered paralysis or catastrophic injury related to the spinal cord at the hands of someone else’s wrongdoing, we want to help. Our legal team will identify the responsible parties and seek extensive damages for the tragedy that has befallen your or loved one.
Call Arnold & Itkin LLC at (888) 493-1629 to begin fighting back against your catastrophic injuries by obtaining the financial security you need and deserve.