Damaging your spinal cord is one of the most devastating injuries you can suffer, due to the severe implications that such an injury has on the rest of your body and its functioning. Although many people associate spinal cord injury with paralysis, there are differing degrees of severity for spinal cord injuries, and symptoms can vary substantially.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury can include any instance of sustained damage to any portion of the spinal cord. Sometimes the injury is so significant that a person becomes paralyzed, either from the waist down (paraplegia), or from the neck down, including the arms (quadriplegia). Where paralysis results, it is called a “complete” spinal cord injury. Paralysis results from the spine being so severely compressed, or severed that brain signals are prevented from reaching body parts below the location of the injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury occurs when there is only partial compression or severance, and when a function of the body parts is disturbed or affected, but not eliminated entirely.
Signs and Symptoms
Spinal cord injuries can affect a variety of bodily functions, including motor skills and sensations. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of movement
- Sensory loss, including insensitivity to temperature and touch
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Changes in sexual function
- Nerve pain/stinging sensations
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Abnormal posture or positioning of the back and neck
If you have been injured and experience any symptoms that may suggest a spinal cord injury, seek immediate medical attention and avoid movement.
How Is A Spinal Cord Injury Diagnosed?
If spinal cord injury is suspected, a doctor will do physical tests to determine your sensitivity to touch, light, and other sensory functions. If a spinal cord injury cannot be ruled out, you may be asked to undergo medical tests, typically an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI. An MRI is particularly useful for detecting herniated disks, blood clots, or other masses (e.g., a crushed vertebra) compressing the spinal cord or damage to the spinal cord itself.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Treated?
Initially, emergency steps are taken to minimize damage and prevent further injury. Typically, this means immobilizing you until you are brought to a hospital for further examination. Not only does this prevent further spinal cord injury, but it avoids further complications, such as blood clots and retention of waste in the body. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove or reposition any masses or foreign objects compressing the spinal cord, and/or remove bone fragments or repair vertebrae. After that, extensive rehabilitation and ongoing treatment will be required to minimize the impact of the injury, help restore sensation and muscle conditioning to whatever extent possible, and treat the psychological and social impacts that a debilitating spinal injury can have. Medications will also be required to help improve certain bodily functions and manage pain, if necessary. In severe cases, a wheelchair or other assistive devices will be required long-term.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help If You Have Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury
An accident injury lawyer can assist if you have suffered spinal cord injury by assessing the facts surrounding the injury and determining the best course of action for collecting compensation. A lawyer will see you through your case, guide you through your options, and apprise you of what legal steps must be taken. Often, in spinal cord injury cases, experts are required to opine on the nature and severity of your injury, necessary treatments plans, and the costs of rehabilitation. This evidence is crucial to establish and quantify your losses: for pain and suffering, for the costs of past and future medical treatments, and for any loss of income due to the injury. Experienced personal injury lawyers will help you retain these experts and get the reports necessary to support your case.
Contact Miskin Law in Whitby or Peterborough, Accident Injury Lawyers
Miskin Law Professional Corporation is experienced in serious injury accident claims, including spinal cord injuries. Our law offices are in Peterborough and Whitby, but we also serve clients in the Toronto area. We also represent victims across Canada in various class actions. If you have been injured, contact us at 1-877-565-8621 to discuss your case.