In recent years, the number of injuries and deaths caused by spinal cord injury has increased. Presently, there are approximately 200,000 individuals living with a spinal cord injury in the United States. Every year, between 12,000 and 20,000 new spinal cord injuries occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol plays a significant role is about a quarter of accidents that lead to spinal cord injury. Furthermore, men are more likely to sustain a spinal cord injury than their female counterparts. Most new cases of spinal cord injury occur in individuals who are younger than 30 years old.
What is a spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury occurs when an individual sustains damage to their spinal column. The spinal column is comprised of 31 bones, called vertebrae. Within the spinal column lies the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a central bundle of nerves, which connects the brain to the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury may result in neurological impairments in various body systems, including the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory system, the urinary system, and the gastrointestinal system. These neurological impairments may be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the damage.
What are the most common causes of spinal cord injury?
The most common cause of spinal cord injury is motor vehicle accidents, which accounts for nearly half of all spinal cord injuries. However, using a seatbelt and airbag can reduce the likelihood of spinal cord injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident by as much as 80 percent. Falls, violence, and sports cause 22 percent, 16 percent, and 12 percent of spinal cord injuries, respectively.
What are the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury?
Medical professionals advise anyone who has experienced significant head or neck trauma to seek a medical attention immediately. Seeking medical attention can help minimize the likelihood of permanent, serious injury. It can also help preserve evidence that can become useful if you decide to sue one or more parties for causing you spinal cord injury.
It is extremely important not to move an individual who may have sustained a spinal cord injury. Moving someone who has sustained a spinal cord injury can result in permanent neurological impairment and other medical complications.
The signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury are:
· Extreme back pain;
· Pressure in the neck, head, or back;
· Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the extremities;
· Loss of bladder or bowel control;
· Difficulty balancing or walking;
· Impaired breathing; and
· Oddly positioned neck or back.
The medical costs associated with treatment of spinal cord injuries are significant.
The average medical cost for an individual who has sustained a spinal cord injury is between $15,000 and $30,000 a year. Over the course of their lifetime, medical costs for an individual dealing with a spinal cord injury can amount to over $3 million.
If you or someone you know has sustained a spinal cord injury, you should contact an attorney immediately. In some cases, one or more parties may be liable for causing you or your loved ones spinal cord injury. If this is the case, your attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve. This could include the cost of your medical expenses as well as, a monetary award for your pain and suffering and other losses.