What Does it Mean to Have an Injured Spinal Cord?
A spinal cord injury involves any damage to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal or to the spinal cord itself. The purpose of the spinal cord is to relay information between your brain and the rest of your body. Because the spinal cord is the base of the central nervous system, various permanent injuries involving overall strength, sensations and body functions that occur below the injury site often occur. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury you will see the injury impact every area of your life.
Spinal cord injuries cannot be cured (at least not with the state of medicine today), and extensive treatment is often necessary to help spinal cord injury survivors regain as much of their independence as possible. The journey is not only physically and mentally taxing, but it can also be very expensive. That’s why it’s so important to have a good personal injury lawyer on your side if an accident has left you with a spinal cord injury.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Like any other injury, injuries to the spinal cord can vary in severity. How much those injuries impact your life depends on where on the spinal cord the injury happened and how severe the damage actually is. The distinction is often described in terms of “completeness.”
Complete vs. Incomplete Injury
A spinal cord injury is considered complete if almost all feeling and ability to control movement has been lost below the injury site. With an incomplete spinal injury, there may be some feeling in the area and limited functionality.
Paralysis associated with spinal cord injuries is either classified as tetraplegia/quadriplegia, which is the inability to fully control the arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs, or paraplegia, which affects all or part of the trunk, legs and pelvic organs, leaving the person with control of his or her arms, hands and shoulders.
How a Spinal Cord Injury Feels
Spinal cord injuries affect each person differently. Not only is the person suffering the injury unable to move the affected parts of the body but they also:
- Are unable to feel heat, cold and touch.
- Are unable to control bladder function and bowel movements.
- May experience extreme reflex movements or spasms.
- May have breathing difficulty.
- May be impaired in their sexual function and/or fertility.
Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries on Daily Life
Some people are fortunate enough to work at the type of job where they are still able to continue their employment even with a spinal cord injury. But many have a reduced ability to work or may not be able to work at all.
In addition, most spinal cord injury survivors will need to make modifications to their homes in order to make them accessible to wheelchairs, or they may need to move. Specialized nursing care is often required, as are numerous sessions of rehabilitation therapy and taking care of various other physical and mental health needs.
Why Spinal Cord Injuries Happen
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by nearly any type of personal injury.
Surgical mistakes can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Workplace accidents fuel workers’ compensation claims. In addition, the injuries can be caused by:
- Traffic accidents
- Sports injuries
- Physical assaults
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury for any of these reasons, you have a long fight on your hands. That fight can be made a little bit easier when you have a personal injury lawyer on your side advocating for your right to compensation for your injuries.
However, spinal injury claims are among the most complicated types of personal injury claims. It is important that you get the advice of a lawyer who is experienced in catastrophic injury claims.
At McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, we are experienced in working with clients who have suffered spinal cord injuries for various reasons. It is possible that you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries if they happened because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. Contact us to set up a consultation.