SPINAL CORD INJURY (SCI)
Spinal Cord Injury is damage to the spinal cord that occurred from a disease to the vertebral column or from a traumatic injury to the spinal cord. Most injuries to the spinal cord result from the backbone pinching the spinal cord, causing it to become bruised or swollen. In some more serious cases, an injury may actually tear the spinal cord. When the spinal cord is injured, the nerves above the injury continue working normally; however, the nerves below the injury are unable to send messages between the brain and parts of the body as they did before the injury took place.
Medical professionals describe the location of a spinal cord injury by referring to the level of the vertebrae supporting the spinal cord. The top of the spinal cord consists of the cervical nerves, which are protected by C1 through C8 and T1 vertebrae. Next are the thoracic nerves, which are protected by T2 through T12, the lumbar nerves (L1 though L5), and the sacral nerves (S1 through S5).
The higher on the spinal cord the injury, the more bodily functions will be affected. Tetraplegia (formerly known as quadriplegia) occurs when the spinal injury is located from C1 to T1. In this case, the damaged cervical nerves affect head, neck, diaphragm, deltoids, biceps, upper chest, arms and hands. Paraplegia occurs when the injury is located between T2 and S5. A person suffering from paraplegia can have a loss of feeling or not be able to move such areas as the chest, stomach, hips, legs and feet.
Other consequences include loss of control in the bladder and bowels, loss of sexual function, loss of the body’s ability to control its temperature, and chronic pain.
It is important for someone who has sustained an SCI to seek medical help immediately. Many of the advances in spinal cord injury treatment have resulted in drugs such as methylprednisolone that decrease the swelling to the spinal cord close to the time of injury. The quicker you get emergency help, the better chance you have of recovery. If you suffer an injury to your spinal cord, call 911 and get immediate medical assistance.
About 11,000 Americans per year sustain a spinal cord injury, and almost 200,000 people in the U.S. live with a disability resulting from a spinal cord injury. Motor vehicle collisions account for the greatest number of spinal cord injuries in persons under 65. Falls account for the greatest amount of these injuries in persons 65 and older. Sports and other recreational activities cause 18% of spinal cord injuries, and more than half happen to people 15 to 29 years old.
COMMON CAUSES OF SCI
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by any of the same events that cause traumatic brain injuries. In addition, causes of SCI include the following:
- Diving into shallow water head first;
- Head-first sports maneuvers such as sliding into a base or tackling; and
- Failure to use a spotter for gymnastics moves.
Legal cases involving spinal cord injury require an attorney who has a thorough understanding of all the aspects of SCI and is experienced in handling such cases. If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury due to an accident or assault, call attorney James R. Gillen at 1-877-619-3095. Do not delay as you may have a valid claim and may be entitled to compensation for injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the applicable statute of limitations expires.
SPINAL CORD INJURY RESOURCES