The Miami personal injury lawyers of Baron & Herskowitz represent individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries as a result of negligence. Spinal cord injuries are serious and can change a person’s life forever. Our attorneys realize that these injuries are so severe and we work hard to get our injured clients the compensation they need to get the best medical care possible as they learn to cope with the challenges ahead. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury to the spine, contact us for help today.
How the Spinal Cord is Damaged
The spinal cord usually is damaged by a sudden impact that thrusts the bony vertebrae that surround and protect the cord into the cord itself. The impact can fracture or dislocate vertebrae or rupture them so fragments of bone and the discs that lie between the vertebrae can cut into the cord or bruise it.
Most spinal cord injuries do not completely cut through the cord. Instead, the injury results in the vertebrae being pushed into the cord. When this happens, fine extensions of nerve cells called axons are destroyed. Certain chemical reactions that result from the trauma can kill spinal nerves, causing paralysis and loss of sensation.
The purpose of the axons is to carry messages between the brain through the spinal cord and out to the rest of the body. Messages from the body to the brain also are carried through the axons and nerve cells up the spinal cord. The extent of a person’s injury depends on how many axons are damaged and where they are, for example:
- When only a few axons are injured, the person may be minimally affected and recover completely
- When extensively damaged, the destroyed axons and resulting injury can produce total paralysis.
Where the paralysis occurs depends upon what part of the spinal cord is damaged. An injury higher up on the spinal column, at the level of the neck, for example, can completely paralyze someone. This would include the respiratory system and a person’s ability to breathe. Damage to lower parts of the cord may paralyze the legs.
Spinal cord injuries are caused by severe impact associated with car and motorcycle collisions, bike wrecks, falls and a variety of other accidents.
What Treatments are Available?
Great strides have been made in treating patients with spinal cord injury. On-site care of the injured person can make a difference in recovery. Stabilizing the neck and body to prevent further damage to the cord is of paramount importance. The sooner treatment begins the better. Treatment and rehabilitation should be aggressive and begin as soon after the injury has occurred as possible to limit damage to the nervous system and even to restore limited abilities.
A steroidal medication called methylprednisolone is used to reduce inflammation and prevent certain chemical reactions that lead to degeneration of the nerves. The medication seems to reduce the amount of damage to nerve cells if given within the first eight hours after the person is injured.
The patient needs many types of medical and psychological support. These include:
- Help breathing and respiratory support (about a third of patients damaged at the level of the neck require these types of treatment)
- Physical rehabilitation and therapy
- Skill-building activities by occupational and physical therapists
- Counseling for emotional support
- Electrical stimulation using prosthetic devices can help to restore some functions, including those of the bladder, breathing, cough and movement of the arms or legs (success of this type of treatment depends on the extent of the injury and where it occurs (the level) on the spinal cord)
Spinal cord injuries are categorized as either complete or incomplete. When a patient suffers complete injury, he or she has total loss of sensation and function below the level of the injury. Patients with incomplete injuries still have some ability to move and feel below the level of the injury.
Medical complications of spinal cord injury are common. These can include:
- Chronic pain
- Bowel and bladder dysfunction
- Increased susceptibility to respiratory and heart problems
How well someone recovers often depends in part on the day-to-day handling of these medical problems. Surgery is often done to protect the spinal cord from compression by surrounding bones and bone fragments that have pressed into the nerve tissue.
What You Should do if You Have a Spinal Cord Injury?
Treatment and rehabilitation to the extent that they are possible are extremely expensive for treating spinal cord injuries. Many injuries result from automobile accidents or diving into swimming pools. It is possible that both these causes are the result of someone else’s negligence.
If you are suffering from a serious spinal cord injury, you should speak with a Miami personal injury attorney at Baron & Herskowitz to evaluate the possibility of obtaining compensation. You may be eligible to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and capacity to earn a living and more. To learn more, please contact our law office today.