The spine of a person’s back is made up a series of 33 bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are responsible for providing structure to the spinal column, as well as protecting the spinal cord within the column. The spinal cord is a long, thin, and bundled collection of nerves and nervous tissue. The spinal cord is responsible for sending messages from the brain to the rest of the body, somatosensory organization, and motor functions.
When the spinal column is damaged, the vertebrae in the spine are often damaged too, fracturing or breaking. Sometimes, the damage to the vertebrae can touch the spinal cord. As a result, damage can occur. Damage to the spinal cord can be disastrous.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to John Hopkins Medicine Health Library, there are two types of spinal cord injuries: a complete spinal cord injury, and an incomplete spinal cord injury. The first is the more severe injury type of the two, and refers to a spinal cord injury where there is no function below the level of the injury. For example, if the injury occurred in the lumbar region of the spine (lower back region), then a complete spinal cord injury would mean that the patient has no function from the lumbar region down.
On the other hand, an incomplete spinal cord injury means that the patient has retained some function below the level of the injury, even if that function is minor.
The location of the spine where a spinal cord injury can occur include the:
- Cervical (neck) region
- Lumbar (lower back) region
- Thoracic (upper back) region
- Sacral (sacrum – pelvis) region
- Coccygeal (coccyx – pelvis) region
The most vertebrae are located within the thoracic region of the spine, which is composed of 12 vertebrae.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries are usually the result of a traumatic physical event or accident. Some common causes of spinal cord injuries include car accidents, violence and assault, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, fall accidents, and other types of accidents where the spine undergoes severe and blunt force.
Anytime that the neck or spine is severe compressed or bent, resulting in damage to the spinal column, a spinal cord injury can occur.
Diagnosing a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is typically very easy for a professional physician to diagnose. In addition to a physical examination, a doctor will typically use a CT scan, an X-ray, an MRI, or all three it diagnose a spinal cord injury. it is extremely important that a patient who has sustained a spinal cord injury receive medical attention immediately following the accident.
Dangers of Spinal Cord Injuries
Of all the injury types that a victim may sustain from an accident, a spinal cord injury is one of the most severe. Because the spinal cord is responsible for allowing the brain to communicate with other parts of the body, a spinal cord injury can result in weakness, decline in motor function, or paralysis. The types of paralysis a victim are classified as quadriplegia, paraplegia, or triplegia. The classifications refer to the number of limbs or parts of the body that are paralyzed as a result of the spinal cord injury – four, two, and three respectively.
In addition to paralysis, a spinal cord injury can also result in complications with other basic physical needs and movements, including bowel and bladder movements, breathing problems, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, and weakness in limbs or body parts.
Treatment & Outlook for Spinal Cord Injuries
Unfortunately, the outlook for a spinal cord injury is often grim. While the extent of the victim’s limited mobility is dependent upon the extent of the image, damage is rarely reversible. In some cases, a spinal cord injury can be severe enough to cause death. At other times, a spinal cord injury is significant enough to render a victim totally dependent for all care necessary for the rest of his life. For less severe injuries, a patient may be able to walk using a brace or other support system, but usually only for short distances.
Types of treatment for a spinal cord injury include learning self-care skills, undergoing physical therapy, receiving respiratory care if necessary, surgery, education, mobility skills, pain medication, physical aids, and more. A spinal cord injury can be one of the most emotionally traumatic and exhausting injury types to live with.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Damages in Massachusetts
For those who have wrongly sustained a spinal cord injury in Massachusetts, compensation for your injury type may be available.
In filing a lawsuit for damages, you can hold the person responsible for your accident liable for your injuries. If you can prove liability of the responsible party, then you may be awarded compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses.
Seek Legal Help for a Spinal Cord Injury in Massachusetts Today
If you or loved one has suffered from a spinal cord injury in a Massachusetts accident that was caused by another person’s negligent actions, then you need the help of a personal injury attorney immediately.
A spinal cord injury is a devastating injury type, and one that will forever affect your life. While nothing can change the fact that your accident happened, compensation for your injury can help you to get the treatment and therapy that you need to live with your injury.
If you have questions or need legal help for filing your personal injury claim, Louison Costello Condon & Pfaff can help. For a free case consultation, call us now at 617-439-0305.