A spinal cord injury involves damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling. In order for the loss of function to occur, the spinal cord does not have to be completely severed. In most individuals with SCI, the spinal cord is intact, but it is the damage to it that results in the loss of function. Also, a person can break their back or neck yet not endure a spinal cord injury if only the bones around the spinal cord (the vertebrae) are damaged, not the actual spinal cord. In these cases the bones usually heal and the person does not experience paralysis. Such spinal injuries can be caused by trauma or disease, and can result in temporary or permanent loss of sensation, loss of movement (paralysis), or loss of bowel or bladder control. Auto accidents involving rollovers, swimming pool diving accidents, falls, seat belt failures, head rest or head restraint injuries, industrial accidents, seat back collapses, airbag related injuries, gun shots, helicopter crashes, aviation accidents, scaffolding falls, crane accidents, maritime injuries and recreational accidents are all leading causes of spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
The vertebral column in an adult typically consists of thirty-three vertebrae arranged in five regions: Seven (7) cervical vertebra, twelve (12) thoracic vertebra, five (5) lumbar vertebra, five (5) fused sacral vertebrae and four (4) fused coccyx vertebrae. In adults the vertebral column is approximately 72-75cm in length and serves to:
The effects of spinal cord injury vary depending on the type and level of injury sustained. We can divide SCI into two categories – complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means that there is no function below the level of the injury (no sensation and no voluntary movement) and both sides of the body are equally affected. An incomplete spinal cord injury means that there is some functioning below the primary level of the injury. One limb may be able to be moved more than the other. The injured person may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved and there may be more functioning on one side of the body than the other.
Neck (cervical) injuries usually result in quadriplegia. People with injuries to the C1 – C4 level often require a ventilator to breathe. Shoulder and bicep control can remain with C5 injuries, however wrist and hand movements do not. C6 injuries can give wrist control but no hand function while at C7 and T1 individuals can straighten their arms but may have dexterity problems with their hands and fingers. Spinal cord injuries to the thoracic level and below result in paraplegia, where the hands are not affected. At T1 through to T8 there may be poor trunk control as a result of the lack of abdominal muscle control. Lower injuries of T9 to T12 allow for good sitting balance from abdominal muscle and trunk control while injuries to the Lumbar and Sacral regions mean a decrease in control of the hip flexors and legs.
Along with the loss of sensation and motor functioning, people with spinal cord injuries experience other changes. A loss of bowel and bladder control may occur and sexual functioning is commonly affected. Other effects of spinal cord injury may include low blood pressure, reduced control of body temperature, inability to sweat below the level of injury and chronic pain.
Many times a person will be severely injured or parlayed due to the fault of his or her own, and in those situations there probably is no legal recourse, lawsuit or remedy. However, many times a thorough investigation by safety experts can reveal a negligent act or omissions by another party, employer or third party that acted in whole or in part to have caused the initial injury and the resulting paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Mr. Willis has gained a national reputation as a leading personal injury lawyer that has successfully represented hundreds of severely injured clients and dozens of clients with all levels of paralysis. With the Willis Law Firm being headquartered in Houston, Texas, Mr. Willis has been able to work with many of the world’s top spinal cord injury and brain injury doctors and specialists at the world renowned spinal cord rehab hospital known as TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation & Research. TIRR is regarded as a world leader in spinal cord research and rehabilitation. TIRR is also ones of the best spinal cord treatment centers in the nation. Patients from all over the nation and world are treated at this special center. Contact Attorney David Willis if you would like more information about spinal cord injury specialists, rehab experts who are used in personal injury lawsuits or if you need more information about whether you may have a legal action for your own injuries or those to a loved one.