Over 10,000 people in the US suffer a spinal cord injury, also called SCI, each year. SCI is defined as any damage to the spinal cord that results in loss of function or mobility. Such injuries can be caused by trauma or disease and can result in temporary or permanent loss of sensation, loss of movement (paralysis), loss of bowel or bladder control and other injuries. Auto accidents are a primary cause of spinal cord injuries, but other traumatic events such as slip and falls and sports related accidents cause many spinal cord injuries each year.
There are two types of spinal cord injury, complete and incomplete. A complete injury is one in which the victim has no sensation or voluntary motor movement on either side of the body below the level of the injury. If the victim has some feeling or partial movement, it is called an incomplete injury.
Injuries are usually defined with reference to the area of the spine affected. Nerves in the spine are defined by the area of the vertebrae. An injury to the spine in the neck area will affect the cervical vertebrae. An injury to the nerves at the fifth cervical vertebra is called a C-5 injury, for instance. Below the neck are the thoracic vertebrae, so injuries there are defined as T-1, T-2 and so forth. There are also lumbar and sacral vertebrae.
Generally speaking, neck injuries will lead to paralysis of all limbs (quadriplegia) while thoracic injuries cause paralysis to the lower limbs only (paraplegia). Both areas have variations in the amount of dysfunction, depending on the severity of the injury. An incomplete cervical injury can leave the patient with some hand use, while a complete injury at C-4 can require the patient to be on a ventilator. Thoracic injuries can leave the arms functional but interfere with walking, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. Other functions that can be affected are blood pressure, body temperature, and pain levels.
A spinal cord injury usually involves swelling of the spinal cord that affects the whole body. When the swelling goes down, the patient may regain function months or years after the injury but it is rare for all functioning to be recovered. Treatment presently consists of stabilizing any broken vertebrae, maintaining the patient, preventing movement to the injured area, and reducing swelling.
There is no cure for spinal cord injury but stem cell research has shown some signs of being useful in the future.
Spinal cord injuries are a horrific event for everyone involved. Often, they have a lasting impact that forever affects the lives of the accident victim, friends and family. There are specific legal benefits that spinal cord injury victims are entitled to however, especially if the incident involves a motor vehicle.
For over 40 years, The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. has helped Michigan spinal cord injury victims win their case and collect the compensation they deserve.
Please call Lee Free and Michigan spinal cord injury lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about spinal cord injury.
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Ask Lee Free
Q: Can a spinal cord injury cause neck and head pain?
A: Absolutely. The spinal cord is actually a bundle of nerves running down the center of your back, carrying signals between the body and the brain. These injuries usually begin with impact that dislocated or disrupts the vertebrae. Many times, they can cause paralysis.