Spinal Cord Injury – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

A spinal cord injury is a life altering event.  The majority of spinal cord injuries cause permanent disability or paralysis and a loss of sensation below the site of the injury.

Spinal cord injuries damage the area of the spinal cord that carries sensation and motor signals to and from the brain. This type of injury can also damage the central part of the spine, which results in segmental losses of interneurons and motor neurons. There are many causes of spinal cord injuries including tumors, disorders, diseases and malformations.  A spinal cord injury can also occur from a traumatic event, such as a:

• Car accident
• Motorcycle crash
• Truck collision
• Fall
• Gunshot
• Sports-related accident

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

A spinal cord injury is not always apparent.  Some people do not immediately realize that they have injured their spinal cord.  Numbness or paralysis sometimes surfaces right after an injury, but other times these symptoms appear gradually as bleeding or swelling begins in or around the spinal cord.  The symptoms of a spine injury depend on the severity of the damage.  Common symptoms include:

• Unconsciousness
• Weakness or paralysis in any part of the body
• Numbness in hands, fingers, feet or toes
• Problems walking
• Pressure in the head, neck or back
• Pain in the spinal cord
• Inability to move
• Loss of sensation
• Loss of bladder control
• Spasms
• Breathing difficulty

Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

Damage cannot be reversed in a spinal cord injury.  However, medical advancements have improved the recovery of individuals with spinal cord injuries.  The focus of spinal cord injury treatment is to prevent further injury and to help the patient have an active life.  After a spinal cord injury occurs, certain emergency actions are necessary.  Emergency workers will try to ensure that the victim is able to breathe and will attempt to prevent the person from going into shock.  Another main concern of emergency workers is immobilization of the neck to prevent further damage to the spinal cord.

Once a patient reaches the emergency room, doctors will work on preventing possible complications and may run tests to determine the extent of damage.  Immediate treatment may include medications, immobilization and surgery, if necessary.  After the patient is stabilized, doctors will recommend care to avoid potential problems, such as blood clots, deconditioning, muscle contractures and bedsores.  Range of motion exercises may be recommended.  Patients can be hospitalized anywhere from several days to several weeks.  A rehabilitation plan will be created and medications may be prescribed. 

Compensation for Spinal Cord Injury

If the accident that caused the spinal cord injury was the fault of another person, then the victim may be able to recover damages.  Compensation may include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.  A settlement for a spinal cord injury can be substantial and can relieve the financial burden that is often placed on the victim and the victim’s family members.  If you or a family member has a spinal cord injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, contact Tavss Fletcher at (757) 625-1214.