An injury to the spinal cord can have permanent consequences on a person’s life. They may no longer be able to work and may need extensive medical care to maintain a high quality of life. If you’re dealing with the effects of a spinal cord injury, you may be facing significant and difficult changes. These may be harder to accept if someone else caused your injuries. Our Albuquerque spinal cord injury lawyers will hold the negligent person accountable and fight for your rights to recover the compensation you deserve.
When investigating your case, our attorneys will need to know how you were injured. Let’s take a look at the ways these injuries can occur.
What Are the Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center released Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance. Since 2015, the following have been the main causes of spinal cord injuries:
- Vehicular – 39.3%
- Falls – 31.8%
- Violence – 13.5%
- Sports – 8.0%
- Medical/Surgical – 4.3%
- Other – 3.1%
The two highest reasons will likely have negligence involved. Car accidents can happen when drivers aren’t paying attention or when they’re driving dangerously. Unfortunately, a car accident can cause traumatic injuries, including spinal cord damage. Falls can happen to people on unsafe premises, whether they’re on the job or they’re on someone else’s property. Reasons for falling could include unstable ladders, spills, and untreated sidewalks in the winter.
When our attorneys in Albuquerque learn how your injury happened, we’ll start to look for who acted negligently. This could have been a driver who was looking at their phone instead of the road or a property owner who didn’t take care of an unstable railing. Then, our spinal cord injury lawyers will see how the accident has harmed you.
What Is the Extent of Injuries to the Spinal Cord?
Before getting into the types of injuries that can happen, let’s look at the sections of the spine and the function of those nerves.
- Cervical (CI to C8). The cervical nerves are responsible for controlling signals to the back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and diaphragm.
- Thoracic (T1 to T12). Located in the upper mid-back, thoracic nerves cover signals to the chest muscles, some back muscles, organ systems, and parts of the abdomen.
- Lumbar (L1 to L5). The lumbar spinal nerves deal with the lower abdomen, back, parts of the leg, buttocks, and genital organs.
- Sacral (S1 to S5). These nerves control signals to the thighs, legs, feet, and genital organs.
When classifying a spinal injury, the terms complete and incomplete may be used. A complete injury means the brain and spinal cord cannot send signals past the injury site. There is usually a lack of motor function and feeling. An incomplete injury means there is still some communication, such as some remaining sensory function.
Two kinds of spinal cord injuries that may occur are tetraplegia and paraplegia. Tetraplegia may occur between the C1 and T1 vertebrae. They may have lost motor function and feeling from the injury site and down. If the injury is high, they could lose function of their head and neck down to their legs. There are many variations of this kind of injury as it depends on the injury site and its severity. Paraplegia may occur when the injury is between the T2 and S5 vertebrae. Feeling and function from the chest down to the feet could be diminished or lost.
How Is the Rest of the Body Affected?
There may be more effects of a spinal injury than you’d expect. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, those who have suffered from a spinal cord injury may also have difficulty with the following:
- Breathing. If the spinal injury sight is high enough, the neck and chest nerves and muscles may be damaged. These are required for a person to breathe. This could result in a person needing a ventilator to aid with breathing.
- Circulation. Heart rhythm and blood pressure could be affected. If these issues persist, they could result in blood clots and a slow or irregular heartbeat.
- Muscle Tone. When muscles aren’t used regularly, they can atrophy. The brain cannot control reflexes, which can cause muscle spasms. While they may be seen as a hindrance, the spasms can also help maintain muscle tone. Medical treatment may be needed if the spasms are severe.
- Pain. Feeling pain like burning or stinging may occur, as well as shoulder pain if the person is using a wheelchair.
- Bladder/Bowel Function. If the nerves that control the lower end of the spinal cord are injured, a person may have issues in controlling bladder and bowel function. They may need to seek other options to deal with these issues.
- Respiratory Diseases. If a person with a spinal cord injury needs to be intubated, there’s a chance they could get ventilator-associated pneumonia. If they start to show symptoms, they need antibiotics immediately. These kinds of complications are the leading cause of death for those with a spinal injury.
Adjusting to these kinds of injuries can be difficult. Learning the day to day in terms of completing necessary tasks and knowing the continued treatment you’ll require may take time and effort—and adding a personal injury claim on your list of responsibilities may seem like too much. Our lawyers are here to help lift some of the burden off your shoulders. Your compensation could bring you some relief as you work on finding your new normal.
How Can Buckingham Barrera Law Firm Help You?
Our lawyers are well-versed in personal injury law. As we go over what happened to you, we will take measures to build your case so you can maximize your compensation. We’ll take your economic and noneconomic damages into careful consideration to get a clear idea of how this accident that wasn’t your fault and how the resulting injury has affected your life.
Give Buckingham Barrera Law Firm a call today so we can discuss your options. Together, we can find a way forward that works for you.