One of the most devastating and long-lasting injuries one can suffer is a spinal cord injury. Working with the brain as part of the central nervous system, the spine helps to coordinate the body’s movements and sensations. When the cord is damaged, loss of movement and sensation can occur. If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury in the greater Boston metro area, a Brockton spinal cord injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and determine if you are eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
As explained by the Christopher Reeve Foundation, a spinal cord injury is more than a single event. While the initial blunt force causes damage and kills spinal cord cells, the hours and days following the injury create further damage through lack of oxygen and the release of toxic chemicals at the site of the injury. It is a common misconception that one’s spinal cord must be completely severed for a loss of function to occur. In truth, most cases of spinal cord injury feature a cord that is bruised but intact.
There are approximately 17,000 new spinal cord injuries in the United States each year. Spinal cord injuries are most commonly caused by vehicle accidents or falls, the United Spinal Association reports. Other common causes of this type of injury include acts of violence, such as gunshot wounds, and sports or recreational activities. Some of the most common results of a spinal cord injury include:
- Paralysis of the muscles used for breathing
- Loss of feeling in the trunk, arms, legs, and pelvic region
- Weakness or numbness
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
The amount of the body that loses movement and sensation depends largely on where on the spine the injury occurred. Generally, the higher up on the spine the injury is, the more of the body is impacted. For example:
- The portion of the spinal cord located in the neck is called the cervical spine. There are 8 segments of the cervical spine known as C1-C8. As this is the highest portion of the spine, injuries to this area will have more severe impacts, which may include the inability to breathe without a ventilator, and loss of movement and sensation in all four limbs.
- The portion of the spine that is located in the upper back is known as the thoracic region. There are 12 segments of this region known as T1-T12, which control the torso and part of the arm. Sufferers of an injury to the thoracic spine may experience limited trunk movement and a lack of abdominal muscle control.
- The portion of the spinal cord located in the middle of the back is known as the lumbar region, and it controls brain signals to the hips and legs. Injury to the five segments of the lumbar region, known as L1-L5, may result in loss of sensation or movement to the hips, legs, and feet.
- The lower spine is known as the sacral region, and injury to the five segments of the sacral region (S1-S5) may result in loss of feeling and movement in the groin, toes, and some parts of the legs.
The Reeve Foundation reports that about half of all spinal cord injuries occur in the cervical region, while a third occur in the thoracic region. About four out of five individuals suffering a spinal cord injury are male.
Defining Terms Related to Spinal Cord Injuries
Below we provide the definitions of many of the terms used to describe spinal cord injuries.
- Complete: Complete spinal cord injuries refer to injuries that result in total loss of movement and sensation below the injury. These are often the most devastating type of spinal cord injury.
- Incomplete: Incomplete spinal cord injuries are those in which the messages that the brain sends to the spinal cord are not completely lost. Sufferers of incomplete injuries retain some movement and sensation below the site of the injury.
- Paraplegia: A general term used when an injured individual loses movement and sensation in the lower part of the body, including the chest, stomach, legs, hips, and feet.
- Tetraplegia or quadriplegia: This generally refers to a condition of someone who has suffered an injury to the cervical spine and has lost movement to the head, neck, shoulders, chest, arms, stomach, hips, and legs.
Complications Posed by Spinal Cord Injuries
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries often deal with both physical and economic challenges, the World Health Organization notes, including the following:
- An increased risk of deep vein thrombosis
- Urinary tract infections
- Muscle spasms
- Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores
- Chronic pain
- Respiratory complications
- A global unemployment rate of more than 60 percent
- Dependence on caregivers
- Increased health care costs to treat the injury itself and for ongoing medical care due to health complications
- Risk of premature death that is 2 to 5 times higher than that of an individual who does not have a spinal cord injury
- The cost of accessibility items, such as wheelchairs or modifications to the home
How Can a Brockton Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Help Me?
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury in Brockton, a lawyer with experience in cases involving catastrophic injuries can help you by:
- Determining if your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence
- Calculating how much compensation to seek in your case that takes into consideration the physical and emotional damages you’ve suffered, the wages you’ve lost, your future ability to work, and the medical costs you will face in the future due to your injuries
- Assisting you with filing a claim against a negligent party or that party’s insurance
- Assisting you with filing a claim with your own insurance provider
- Negotiating with the insurance company to obtain a settlement amount that covers the full cost of your injuries
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit in court
- Arguing on your behalf in court so that you can obtain a damage award for your injuries
Call The Law Offices of Gerald Noonan if You Sustained a Spinal Cord Injury in Brockton
To schedule a free consultation and case review, call the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan today at (508) 588-0422, or contact us online.