Spinal cord injuries can have devastating and life-changing consequences for victims in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Along with costly medical procedures, lost wages and other financial losses, you will likely also have to deal with many physical challenges that typically follow damage to the spinal cord nerves in the neck and back. The spinal column consists of vertebrae, ligaments and disks, all of which protect the spinal cord.
Spinal cord injuries can be traumatic or non-traumatic. The latter typically follows degeneration of the disks in the spine, arthritis, infections, inflammation or cancer. However, if you received a sudden blow to your back, it could cause a traumatic spinal cord injury. Such a strike could dislocate, fracture, compress or crush some of your vertebrae, and penetration of the spinal cord can sever it. Over time, swelling, fluid accumulation, inflammation and bleeding around the injured area can exacerbate the trauma.
Understanding the central nervous system
The spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system. The column of vertebrae encases the spinal cord that runs down the back from the brain. It is a soft tissue cord of many nerve tracts that serves as the communication between your body and your brain.
Motor tracts transport instructions between your brain and the muscles to tell them how they must move while sensory tracts run messages back to your brain to relay messages about pain, pressure, cold, heat and more. Spinal cord damage can jeopardize the communication between your body and your brain.
Consequences of spinal cord damage
The severity of the damage will determine the impact of the injury on your mobility. Nerve fibers may not be able to pass through the damaged area, affecting nerves and muscles below the injury. If your spinal cord injury is in the neck area, it will affect the movement of your arms, and it might even jeopardize your ability to breath. An injury further down in your spine can impair bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and potentially your torso and leg movement.
Traumatic spinal cord injury causes
The severity of the trauma to your spinal cord will determine the health consequences. These may be chronic pain, back spasms, paralysis and even death. Sadly, many of these incidents were the direct result of another party’s negligence. The following accidents frequently cause traumatic spinal cord injuries:
- Auto accidents — Authorities say motorcycle and vehicle accidents lead to more than one-third of spinal cord injuries every year.
- Falls — Falls cause a multitude of spinal injuries, and many of them involve victims older than 65 years of age.
- Violent acts — Violent encounters make up a significant percentage of spinal cord injuries, and these can involve knife wounds, gunshots and other violent acts.
- Recreation and sports — Impact sports, athletics and diving into shallow water cause a large number of traumatic spinal cord injuries.
- Alcohol — Authorities report that alcohol often plays a role in accidents that cause these traumatic injuries.
Help is available
If you are a victim of a traumatic spinal cord injury that was caused by the negligence of another party, your physical circumstances may make it tough to pursue financial relief. Fortunately, help is available, and experienced legal counsel can navigate the challenges of a personal injury lawsuit in a Pennsylvania civil court.