Injuries to the spinal column can lead to compression or cuts of the spinal cord, damaging the nerve cells that carry signals up and down the cord between the brain and the rest of the body. A serious spinal cord trauma is like a command center crash. How it affects the numerous bodily functions is at first unknown, and if it can be repaired is unclear.
How can the spinal cord be damaged?
Complete cuts are rare. Displaced bone fragments, disc material or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. A lot of damage is also done by compression due to swelling and fluid accumulation, sometimes by foreign metal parts or shreds.
How are spinal cord injuries treated?
Spinal cord injuries, like brain injuries, are among the most difficult to treat because no two injuries are alike, and no two persons will react the same way to an injury. These types of injuries require immediate care and intervention, in order to relieve the pressure on the nerve cells that only increases with the swelling and accumulation of body fluids, and to remove the fragments. Respiratory problems are often an indication of a severe trauma in the neck area, which could later lead to respiratory support. Some steroid drugs reduce the damage to the nerve cells if given in the first hours after the accident. For many victims, a rehabilitation therapy will improve the lost bodily functions and reduce the initial impairment.
Can a prognosis be made?
Spinal cord injuries are classified in various categories, depending on the damaged motor or sensory functions. In turn, various symptoms will confirm the extent and the location of the injury, the most common being paralysis of upper or lower limbs (or both) or problems with involuntary functions, such as:
- Loss of bowel and bladder function;
- Sexual dysfunction;
- Loss of breathing ability;
- Irregular blood pressure;
- Reduced control of body temperature or sweating;
- Chronic pain, etc.
A lot of progress has been made in treating spinal cord injuries—from drugs to surgical interventions—and in avoiding the debilitating or lethal complications arising from paralysis and dysfunction, such as bedsores or respiratory infections. For many patients, life will never be the same, but highly specialized rehabilitation therapies will allow them to cope with impairment and disability.
Approximately 450,000 Americans live with spinal cord injuries, the majority of them (82 percent) being males between the age of 16 and 30. The first cause (36 percent) is car crashes, followed by violence, sports injuries, or falls.
In North and Central East Florida, the Daytona Beach Car Accident Law Firm of Johnson & Gilbert PA is the compassionate and reliable legal support you need if you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident caused by someone else.
Call us today toll free at (800) 556-8890 and locally at (386) 673-4412 or fill out the form on this page for a free consultation.