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Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries

xray of a human spine over the image of a man

The first step to understanding spinal cord injuries is understanding the importance of your spinal cord. According to the U.S. government’s MedlinePlus:

Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your back. It carries signals back and forth between your body and your brain.”

As you can imagine, any injury that interrupts these signals can have serious consequences. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains:

A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue.”

This type of injury can sever your spinal cord, but more often than not, it fractures or compresses your spinal vertebrae, crushing and destroying axons – or the nerve cell extensions that allow your spinal cord to work as intended.

With damaged or destroyed axons, many people face varying levels of paralysis. Although some people recover from spinal cord injuries, there is no “cure” and most people deal with the consequences of their injury for the rest of their lives.

What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. for young adults. For people over 65, however, unintentional falls cause the majority of spinal cord injuries.

Other common causes of spinal cord injuries include sports and recreation accidents and acts of violence.

Do Spinal Cord Injuries Cause Paralysis?

Yes. While not all spinal cord injuries cause paralysis, complete spinal cord injuries produce a total loss of all motor and sensory function below the level of injury in which both sides are equally affected.

People injured at the waist or below may experience paraplegia, or paralysis from the waist down, and many people who suffer spinal cord injuries are also affected by quadriplegia or tetraplegia, which is paralysis from the neck down.

People with incomplete spinal cord injuries may also experience hemiplegia, which affects only one side of the body. Doctors measure spinal cord injuries using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grading scale. An ASIA A injury is a complete spinal cord injury, an ASIA B injury is a sensory incomplete injury with complete motor loss (you can still feel sensations below the site of the injury, but you cannot control the muscles), an ASIA C injury allows some movement, but less than half the muscle groups have a full range of motion against gravity; an ASIA D injury means more than half your muscle groups are “anti-gravity,” and an ASIA E injury represents a full recovery.

What Is the Prognosis for People With Spinal Cord Injuries?

Fortunately, improved emergency care helps mitigate the damage caused by spinal cord injuries and even allows patients to recover certain abilities. With rehabilitative care and assistive support and devices, many people who suffer a spinal cord injury go on to manage their conditions and live full and complete lives.

As with any medical condition, resources are essential to receiving and maintaining care and support. If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that involved negligence, our team at the Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli can help you get the compensation you need to secure your future.

Call us at (516) 628-6402 anytime, day or night, to discuss your legal options and schedule a free consultation. If you prefer, you can also contact us online to learn more about what we can do for you – call or click to get started today.

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