Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is a disruption to the neuronal tissue contained in the spinal canal resulting in damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord itself is a long bundle of nerves that send messages from your brain to the rest of your body. Any damage caused to the spinal cord creates a complicated injury.
Each SCI is different and can affect your body in any number of ways. Spinal cord injuries are classified based on which vertebral level sustains the injury.
Given that function below the injured site may be impaired, identifying which level is damaged gives doctors and rehabilitation specialists a good understanding of what parts of your body are likely to be affected.
If you think of the spinal cord as the nerve center that controls most of the body, then it makes sense that the higher the site of the injury, the more catastrophic the outcome can be. Trauma to the cord often results in a loss of function, feeling, or mobility below the site of the injury.
Complete vs. Incomplete Injuries to the Spinal Cord
A complete spinal cord injury means that the cord is disrupted, and you may lose all feeling and movement below the level that was injured.
An incomplete spinal cord injury allows you to retain some level of function and sensation below the damaged level.
Both complete and incomplete injuries can leave you with lifelong impairment, but incomplete injuries have a better long-term prognosis.
Consequences of Injuries Involving Different Parts of the Spine
The spinal canal is divided into four major sections. The spinal cord spans the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and the sacral spine.
Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries
The cervical spine is the narrowest part of the spinal canal. It begins at the base of the skull and goes to the bottom of your neck.
A cervical spinal cord injury can result in:
- Tetraplegia—paralysis of the torso, arms, and legs
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- The inability to breathe without assistance
- Impaired ability to speak
Cervical spinal cord injuries are considered the most severe because they are the highest level of the spine.
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries
The thoracic spine makes up your mid-back.
Thoracic spinal cord injuries are also quite severe, and can result in:
- Paraplegia—paralysis of the legs and into portions of the torso
- Limited or no control over your bowels and bladder
It’s also common to experience difficulty breathing without assistance.
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries
The lumbar spine makes up the last five vertebrae of your lower back. The spinal cord is harder to injure in the lumbar spine as the vertebrae are more substantial and the spinal canal is wider.
When the cord is injured at this level, those who are affected usually retain mobility and feeling. However, chronic pain and limited mobility can still alter your life.
Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries
The sacral spine is the base of your spinal column. In most people, the spinal cord does not extend into the sacral spine. However, damage to the spinal column at this level can still cause significant impairment. The sacral spine contains the cauda equina, which is a bundle of major nerves.
Damage can cause Cauda Equina Syndrome that can result in severe pain, permanent paralysis, loss of sexual function, and loss of control of the bowels and bladder.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Oklahoma City
Virtually any traumatic event can potentially damage the spinal cord. The most common causes of a traumatic injury to the spinal cord include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Other motor vehicle accidents
- Recreational sports
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Workplace accidents
Contact our law office if you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We’re always available to take your call and offer support – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How is the Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury Calculated?
We, at McGuire Law Firm, recognize that no dollar amount can make up for the pain and suffering often associated with spinal cord injuries. However, a fair settlement can relieve the worry of paying bills or financially caring for your family after an accident leaves you with a spinal cord injury.
Injuries to the spine are expensive. The overall costs will depend on a number of factors. The considerations will include:
- Your age
- The level where the injury occurred
- Is it a complete or incomplete injury
- Recommended treatments
- Rehabilitative costs
- Long-term care costs
- Medical equipment needed now and in the future
- Lost wages
- What type of job you had and whether or not you will be able to return to the same kind of work
The list cannot begin to be comprehensive because spinal cord injuries affect each person differently. Some injuries can result in numerous surgeries to restore as much function as possible, other injuries may require life-long specialized care. Oklahoma allows you to ask for damages for future medical expenses and pain and suffering. With spinal cord injuries, both of these things are usually a factor.
We diligently review your medical records, employment history, and any other documentation that will give us an in-depth perspective about your current and future medical needs as well as lost income so that we can make a fair demand on your behalf.
Contact Our Oklahoma City Personal Injury Attorneys Today
At McGuire Law Firm, we take pride in being personal injury lawyers with compassion for our clients. We know that no one asks to be in an accident, and with twenty years of experience, we know the emotional and physical trauma accidents cause.
An accident that causes an injury to the spine is one of the most traumatic experiences you can endure. It is a long road to recovery and a very real chance that your life may never be the same. You should not have to deal with the costs, and the physical and emotional consequences, alone. Let our experienced team help you recover the damages you deserve.
Call our Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys and let us help you navigate a legal recovery so that you can focus on finding your way forward. You can schedule a free consultation today.