The Cloud Law Firm represents victims of spinal cord injuries in Highlands County.
If you or your loved one has been involved in a car accident, please contact an Avon Park Personal Injury Attorney now for a free consultation at: (863) 402-2207. We will be happy to speak with you over the phone or meet with you in person at our Highlands County office located at 205 S Commerce Ave, Sebring, FL 33870. We want you to know your rights and we will provide the advice and help you are searching for. If you retain us, we will get to work on your case right away. You have nothing to lose by calling because there are no attorneys’ fees unless we win your personal injury case.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are up to 358,000 people in the United States with spinal cord injuries. The leading cause of cord injuries is car accidents, followed closely by falls.
The Spine and Spinal Cord
The spine (called the vertebral column) is the defining characteristic of a vertebrate, such as humans. The spine is a segmented series of bones, called vertebra (plural vertebrae). The vertebra are separated by intervertebral disc. The intervertebral discs are made up of a spongy tissue and are necessary to maintain the spine’s alignment and still permit movement.
The spine is divided into four sections: cervical (neck), thoracic (chest/upper back), lumbar (lower back), and sacral (pelvis). The vertebrae in each section of the spinal cord are numbered top to bottom. For example, the third vertebra down from the top of the cervical spine is called C3, and the fifth vertebra down from the top of the lumbar spine is L5. The intervertebral discs are identified by the vertebrae they fall between. For example, the intervertebral disc between C3 and C4 is identified as the C3-C4 intervertebral disc.
The spinal cord runs through the center of the spine in what is called the spinal cavity. The spinal cord is a fragile nerve structure that extends from the brain stem to the bottom of the spine. Along the spine, small openings, called foramina (plural foramen), allow nerves to enter and exit the spinal canal to and from the rest of the body. This is the pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. An injury to the spinal cord can prevent it from sending and receiving messages correctly from the brain to the body’s systems that control sensory, motor, and autonomic functions from your head to your bowel to your toes.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury occurs when bone, intervertebral disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into the spinal cord tissue and damage a portion of the nerve cells which help the brain communicate to the rest of the body. The result is an impairment in the cord’s normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function. Spinal cord injury is not to be confused with spinal (bone) injury. A person can fracture the spinal bones, vertebrae, without damaging the spinal cord itself.
Spinal cord injuries are broken down into two types: complete and incomplete. A complete cord injury means the person has lost the ability to feel and move below the level of injury. An incomplete cord injury means the person still has some, but not all, function below the level of injury.
It is not at all uncommon for minor and moderate accidents to cause incomplete cord injuries. Minor to moderate trauma can cause the intervertebral discs to bulge, protrude, or rupture (called a herniated disc), which compresses a nearby nerve in the spinal cord. In turn, compressed, or pinched, nerves can cause headaches; pain, spasms, numbness, tingling or weakness in the shoulders, arms or legs (called radiculopathy); and even loss of bowl functions. The symptoms can be significant and can have significant effects on a person’s life.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord conditions can be caused by congenital conditions (birth defects), degenerative conditions (aging), trauma (an accident), or some combination of the foregoing. Trauma to the spine can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, assault, and other accidents.
Diagnosis of Spinal Cord Injuries
One way doctors identify the location of a spinal cord injury is through physical examination. 31 pairs of spinal nerves enter and exit through spaces (foramen) between the vertebrae and run from a specific vertebra to a specific area of the body. Based on this fact, the skin’s surface has been divided into areas called dermatomes. Radicular pain in a particular dermatome enables a doctor to locate where the spinal cord is damaged. In addition, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography scans (CT) and other radiological studies allow doctors to see spinal cord injuries.
Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries
Treatment for spinal cord injuries generally consists of chiropractic treatment, therapy/rehabilitative treatment, medications, injections, and surgery. The cost of treatment can range from several thousand dollars for a single hospital visit to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a combination of treatment. Treatment of serious injuries can easily cost millions of dollars.