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Spinal cord injuries: When hitting the road isn't a good thing

No one needed to tell you the dangers of riding your motorcycle. You understood the risks when you took to the road and gladly accepted them. You drove diligently and took as many safety precautions as you could.

What you couldn't count on was that another driver's distraction, impairment or other mistake led to the accident that caused your spinal cord injury. Now that you received a diagnosis, you probably have numerous questions.

A little background

When you hit the road or some other hard, immovable object during the crash, the trauma to your spinal column caused injury to your spinal cord. Severing of the spinal cord only happens in a percentage of cases. Most patients' spinal cords remain intact, but bruised.

The spinal cord provides a conduit for the messages from your brain to your body and from your body to your brain. Your injury broke that connection below the injury site. You may be unable to move some or all of your limbs and unable to feel sensations. The organ systems below the injury site may also be affected.

The initial trauma is not the only potential injury to your spinal cord. After that initial trauma, it could suffer further damage due to the release of chemicals in your body or oxygen deprivation. Medical personnel will work to prevent these eventualities and halt any further damage to your spinal cord. This may involve the use of medications, immobilization devices and surgery, if necessary.

Is your injury incomplete or complete?

Even temporary paralysis can be frightening. If you arrived at the hospital with any sensation and movement at all, your chances of a full, or close to full, recovery increases. Even so, it could take several months or even years before you feel as though you have healed as much as you can. You may not return to normal activities for months. You may never engage in some activities again.

If you suffered a complete spinal cord injury, you may not yet have any sensation or mobility below the injury site. Any improvement provides hope that you will regain even more sensation and movement, but the longer that no movement or sensation occurs, the more the odds drop. So, if you feel any sensation and can make any movement, don't stop.

Can your financial life recover?

You more than likely have a lot to learn about your spinal cord injury and your future. You may also benefit from knowing your legal options in connection with the accident that put you in this position. You may seek compensation from the other driver, along with any other parties who may bear some legal liability for your condition.

An insurance company may attempt to offer you a settlement. You may be tempted to take it since it can help in the short term, but the offer may not even cover your current medical bills. As with your recovery, you may want to do some research and determine whether the offer is in your best interest. If not, you may exercise your right to take legal action.

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