According to widely cited sources, 450,000+ Americans suffer from some form of spinal cord injury (a.k.a. SCI). 10,000 or so new cases of SCI develop every year, and more than 4 out of 5 victims are healthy young men between the ages of 16 and 30. This blog post will touch on the basic causes and consequences of SCI and connect you with a trustworthy and experienced Philadelphia injury lawyer who can answer your burning questions about how to get compensated for your SCI-related medical bills and how to deal with the overwhelming logistics (e.g. insurance forms) that you are struggling with.
Causes of SCI
Common causes included car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, violence and sports injuries, and falls. Diseases such as spina bifida, Friedreich’s ataxia, and botched surgeries can also cause serious damage to the nerves running from the base of your brain down to your pelvic region.
Classifications of spinal cord injuries
A good rule of thumb is that the higher up on your spine the injury is, the more widespread your damage will be. So if you suffer an injury to your C1 vertebra in your neck, you might expect massive loss of function, including perhaps paraplegia or quadriplegia. If you suffer damage to your sacral vertebrae — that’s the lower part of your back — you will still suffer serious effects but perhaps not as serious as you would get from cervical nerve damage.
There are essentially four regions of the spine: Cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Sacral nerve damage is associated with loss of function and paralysis of your hands, diaphragm, head, wrists, biceps, neck, and triceps. Damage to the thoracic spine can cause function loss to the abdominal muscles and chest muscles. Lumbar injury can result in loss of function of leg muscles. And sacral damage can yield sexual dysfunction and problems with bowel and bladder control.
Spinal cord injuries can be classified as “incomplete” or “complete.” These classifications are loose: essentially they refer to your level of voluntary control and sensation in specific regions. A complete injury means that you’ve totally lost sensation and control over the injured region. Incomplete means that you’ve only lost partial control. Obviously, this classification is in some sense artificial. Some complete injuries can actually reverse themselves. And incomplete SCI injuries range from minor and inconvenient to life altering and debilitating.
What to do now?
Your first priority should be to get the most appropriate medical, surgical and rehabilitative help you can, as quickly as you can. Unfortunately, nerve damage is very hard to reverse, and it can take a while for injuries to the spine to “show up” in the form of loss of function or side effects. Moreover, if you don’t follow a rigorous and carefully structured rehabilitative plan, you could wind up exacerbating your injury (making it worse) and causing additional damage.
On the other hand, medical science is rapidly evolving, and physicians and clinicians are constantly trying out new breakthrough technologies and procedures to provide additional function and ease the pain of SCI.
In terms of getting compensation from liable parties who caused injury to you – such as a careless surgeon, a fatigued trucker, or an overly aggressive sports opponent – your best bet is to consult a Philadelphia accident lawyer or Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer as quickly as possible. Or, if you are too sick and injured, delegate a relative to contact an attorney for you. If you lack good representation from the get go, you may accidentally say or do things that could impede your ability to collect much needed money to pay for your spinal rehabilitative surgery, time off of work, pain medications, and so forth.
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