Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can be very frightening for victims and their families. When you lose the ability to control a certain area of your body, you suddenly find yourself dependent on others for various functions you once took for granted. Symptoms that often accompany this condition include numbness, tingling, and loss of sensation in the affected areas.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are a lot of reasons spinal cord injuries occur, and oftentimes, these injuries are preventable. Some of the most common causes include:
- Auto Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Gunshot Wounds
- Diving Injuries
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Being Struck by Falling Objects
- Medical and Surgical Errors
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Sports Injuries
What you Need to Know About Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be life-altering in many ways. If you or someone close to you has suffered an SCI, there are some things you should know that will help you adjust to the condition:
- Spinal Cord Injuries Have Varying Degrees of Severity
SCIs range widely in severity, and the good news is that many victims are able to make a full recovery over time. The severity of a spinal cord injury is commonly referred to as its “completeness.” Complete SCI indicates a total loss of feeling and motor function in the affected area(s). Incomplete SCI means there is partial feeling and motor function, and individuals can have varying degrees of incompleteness depending on the specific injury.
- A Range of Treatments May be Necessary
Treatment for spinal cord injuries are determined on a case-by-case basis. Medication may be prescribed for the most minor cases. More severe cases may require traction to stabilize the spine, bring it into proper alignment, or both. For the most severe cases, surgery may be required to remove bone fragments, foreign objects, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae that may be compressing against the spine. After the initial treatments, rehabilitation and/or ongoing care may be required.
- Recovery Takes Time
Moderate to severe SCI sufferers typically face a long road to recovery. During the recovery process, the body needs time to rest and repair the damaged tissue. Follow your doctor’s orders, and do not expect to do too much too soon. In addition, if physical therapy is prescribed, be sure to follow through on all the exercises you are given. This will keep your muscles stronger, making the later phases of your recovery go much more smoothly.
- Your Home May Require Modifications
If you suffered a moderate to severe spinal cord injury, it is possible that you will be going home in a wheelchair. This might require modifications to your home to make it easier to get around inside. For example, you may need to rearrange the furniture to allow for wider openings for your wheelchair to get through. You might also need to have a stairlift installed. If it looks like your injuries are long-term and you are going to be in a wheelchair for the foreseeable future, you might need to consider permanent home modifications, such as widening doorways and hallways. If this is not possible, you might need to look for a more suitable place to live.
- You May Need Special Equipment for your Vehicle
Just like with your home, you might need to make some modifications to your vehicle if you are in a wheelchair. Some vehicles can have specialized equipment installed to make it more accessible for disabled individuals. If this is not possible, you might need to look at purchasing a new vehicle.
- You May Become More Dependent Upon Loved Ones
This is a change that is almost as much psychological as physical. Those who suffer spinal cord injuries often have to depend on others in the household to function day-to-day. This can change the family dynamic in many ways. For example, children who were used to depending on you for various things may have a hard time adjusting to the fact that you are now dependent on them. It is a good idea to prepare for these types of changes by taking some time to discuss them with everyone who will be affected by them.
- If the Injury Was Caused by Another Party, You May be Entitled to Compensation
While no amount of money can restore you to your previous condition after a serious injury, compensation may be available to help you and your family adjust more smoothly. Compensatory damages available for spinal cord injuries may include compensation for hospital bills, medical treatment, rehabilitations costs, ongoing medical care, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and loss of consortium. In extreme cases in which the actions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish their wrongdoing and deter them and others from engaging in similarly egregious behavior in the future.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury, it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney, so you fully understand your legal rights and options. At Olmstead & Olmstead, we understand that SCIs can be life-changing, and we fight hard to ensure that those who suffer these types of injuries receive the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and compassionate attorneys, call our office today at 703-361-1555 or send us a message through our online contact form.