A spinal cord injury is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Such injuries can cause serious and permanent damage to one’s body. An injury is usually due to a blow that fractures or dislocates vertebrae—the bone disks that make up the spine. Most injuries do not completely break the spinal cord; rather, they damage the tissue and nerves that carry signals throughout the body. The American Spinal Injury Association created a classification system based on neurological responses, sensations on the skin, and strength of certain muscle groups:
A: “complete” spinal cord injury, no motor or sensory function
B: “incomplete” spinal cord injury, sensory function but no motor function, typically a transitory phase, if the person recovers motor function, the person’s motor function is incomplete.
C: “incomplete” spinal cord injury, motor function is preserved, more than half of the key muscles have a muscle grade that indicates active movement with full range of motion
D: “incomplete” spinal cord injury, motor function is preserved, at least half of the key muscles have even stronger muscle grade.
E: indicates “normal” spinal cord, motor and sensory scores are normal, it is possible to have a spinal cord injury and neurological deficits with completely normal motor and sensory scores.
The seriousness of the injury dictates the effects of a spinal cord injury. Injuries are usually called “complete” or “incomplete.” One who experiences complete injury will lose neurological function. This means a victim will lose motor and sensory function below a specific area of the body. Few people recover full movement and sensation after a complete injury. One who experiences an incomplete injury will lose some sensation or movement below the area the injury took place. This mean a victim may lose the ability to contract certain muscles or feel touch. It is common that those who suffered an incomplete injury will recover some movement function.
Unfortunately, there are other obstacles one must overcome in addition to loss of sensation and motor function when he sustains a spinal cord injury. Some include complications with bowel and bladder function, loss of sexual function, inability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure, neuropathic pain, muscle spasms.
In many spinal cord injuries, it is imperative that certain drugs are administered or procedures are completed within a particular number of hours after the injury. Yet, there are competing theories of what emergency treatment is best. For example, some drugs are no longer recommended to be administered right after an injury. The lawyers at Fairlie & Lippy will consult with the most respected doctors to review the cause of your injury as well as the immediate treatment that was administered.
The long term treatment of spinal cord injuries is worth addressing. The everyday lives of individuals who sustain such injuries are changed significantly. Thus, most meet with an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists help their clients with bathing, eating, dressing, working, parenting, and leisure activities. Clients may learn new or different ways to complete tasks. Sometimes equipment is needed to achieve tasks. Clients are usually taught emotional coping skills and physical exercises to assist their new lifestyle as well.
Other issues need to be addressed after a spinal cord injury, too. Some include: mobility, house modification, domestic retraining, and transportation. The rehabilitation process is difficult but necessary to assist injured individuals to maintain the most independent lifestyle as possible. If you think or know that you have suffered a spinal cord injury, it is essential to consult with an attorney and medical professionals who can determine the extent of your injuries, the necessary treatment, rehabilitation procedures, and lifetime care and needs. As with all personal injury cases, it is necessary to seek fair and adequate compensation right away. Obtaining more compensation after your case has been tried or settled is not possible.