Damage to the spinal cord can forever alter a person’s life in an instant. The severity of the injury depends upon the location and extent of the damage on the cord. Paralysis is the usual outcome of damage to the cord from the point of injury downward.
When all four limbs are paralyzed plus the trunk and pelvic organs, the person has tetraplegia — what used to be called quadriplegia. A person who has paralyzed legs, all or part of the trunk, and pelvic organs has paraplegia.
It is not necessary for the spinal cord to be severed for injury to occur. Most people who have spinal cord injury have an intact but injured cord that causes loss of function.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Auto accidents are the primary cause of spinal cord injury every year, amounting to 40 percent of the injuries that occur.
- Alcohol is involved in one quarter of all spinal cord injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries can also result from illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, inflammation of the spinal cord and osteoarthritis.
- Falls cause more than 25 percent of injuries each year. In people older than 65, spinal cord injury is most often caused by a fall.
- Sports and recreational activities make up about eight percent of spinal cord injuries. These include injuries from diving or from contact sports.
- Damage inflicted by assault with a gun or knife account for 15 percent of spinal cord injuries according to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
How well someone can control their limbs following injury to their spinal cord depends upon:
- How complete the injury is. If all feeling and ability to move are gone below the point of the injury, your injury is said to be complete. However, if you retain some feeling and movement below the point of injury, it is said to be incomplete.
- Where along the spinal column the injury occurs.
- Signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury include:
- Exaggerated reflexes or muscle spasms
- Feelings of pain or extreme stinging resulting from injured nerve fibers in the spinal cord
- Loss of ability to control the bowels or bladder
- Loss of ability to move
- Loss of the ability to feel, including heat, cold and touch
- Problems in sexual function, sensitivity, and fertility
- Problems with breathing, coughing and clearing fluids from the lungs
Much research is being done on spinal cord injuries which one day may lead to new treatments and repairs for patients with these types of injuries.
Contact a San Diego Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, you deserve to be compensated for your pain, suffering and the disruption of your life. To find out if you qualify to file a claim, contact Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Diego spinal cord injury lawyer.