Spinal cord injuries may occur in many different types of injury accidents, and they may be devastating. Your spinal cord is comprised of delicate nerve tissue, and it is enclosed inside of your vertebral column. The vertebral column is made up of stacked bones called the vertebrae. These bones and your spinal cord extending from the base of your skull and your brain down to your tailbone. Spinal nerves are connected to your spinal cord and exit from it to enervate your limbs and other parts of your body from tiny openings between your discs called the foramen. The vertebral column itself is divided up into sections, including the cervical bones of the neck, the thoracic vertebrae of the upper torso, the lumbar vertebrae of the lower back, the sacrum and the coccyx. If you receive an injury to your spine, the severity of the symptoms may depend on its location and the type of injury that you have suffered.
Common Causes of Spine Injuries in Motor Vehicle Accidents
When collisions occur, there are powerful physical forces that are released. These forces can cause your body to twist and turn in an unnatural way, placing pressure on your spine and causing injuries. Drivers who are holding on to the steering wheels of their vehicles tightly at the moment of impact may also suffer injuries. In rear-end, accidents, all of the occupants of the car may have their heads and necks violently thrown forward before snapping back, which can cause injuries to the cervical spine. Some people have their torsos thrown forward while their lower bodies remain in place because of their seatbelts. This can cause compression to the spine and fractures. Blunt-force trauma to the back in an accident may also cause serious spinal injuries and leave victims with permanent disabilities.
How Spinal Injuries are Diagnosed
If a spinal cord injury is suspected, the first responders will immobilize the victim at the scene and use a board to transport him or her to the ambulance and the hospital. The victim will be immobilized at the hospital as well during the diagnostic testing. Doctors may use x-rays, computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose spine injuries. All of these tests allow the doctors to see the area of suspected injury so that they can see what happened. If spinal cord injuries are present, the victim will then be given a number of neurological tests in order to determine the severity of the injuries. These will include tests of the person’s ability to feel physical sensations in different areas of the body and of the person’s ability to control his or her muscles.
Treatment Options for Spine Injuries
The treatment that is used for spine injuries will depend on the location of the injury, its severity and the type of damage. Some people will require the use of breathing machines to help them to breathe. Hydrotherapy may be used to help reduce muscle spasms. People may also be given epidural steroidal injections to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. If the victim’s blood pressure is too low, he or she may be given medication to increase it. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed to victims whose muscles are overly tight because of their injuries. Surgical interventions may be needed to correct abnormalities of the bones or of the spinal cord. Victims may have to undergo rehabilitation in order to help retrain their brains’ pathways for better physical and mental functioning. Some people may require urinary catheterization to remove urine. People who suffer severe injuries may require ongoing treatment and physical therapy for the remainder of their lives, and they may be left with permanent disabilities and function losses.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident and have received an injury to your spine, you will likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster soon after your accident. The adjuster may extend a settlement offer to you and ask that you sign a final release. It is important that you avoid doing this. Insurance companies often make offers that are substantially less than the costs that victims may incur. You should not agree to sign a final release or to accept a settlement offer until you fully understand the extent of your injury, your ongoing treatment needs and the ongoing costs of your care. An experienced personal injury attorney may use the help of medical experts to help determine the treatment that you are likely to require in the future and the severity of your injuries. This information is vital for determining what an appropriate settlement offer would be. When you are contacted by the insurance adjuster, it is important for you to remember that the adjuster works for his or her employer in an effort to help minimize the insurance company’s losses. Adjusters do not have your best interests in mind when they extend offers. You can simply tell the insurance adjuster that you need to review the offer with your attorney. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today for an evaluation of your case and any offer that you might have received.
Sources and Resources for Further Information:
Medical and Legal Aspects of Spinal Cord Injury – www.spinalcordmeeting.org