The term “spinal injury” almost always refers to an injury of the spinal cord, not just the vertebrae or discs that comprise the human spine, and is part of what makes spinal injuries so devastating.
The structure of the spine (the bones that form its shape) provide protection and support for the body, and there is no doubt that an injury to one of the vertebrae can be very painful, disabling, and even dangerous. But damage to the spinal cord, which is the bundle of nerves that runs the length of the spine and provides the medium for communication between the brain and the rest of the body, can be devastating.
The Job of the Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is the medium for communication between the brain and the rest of the body. It is a long, thin, tubelike structure that starts at the brainstem and runs the course of the spinal column to nearly the bottom of the spine. The nerves within the spinal cord are responsible for communicating messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Sometimes, these message are completely reactionary and occur as a result of an immediate reflex – such as pulling your hand away quickly if you accidentally touch a hot stove. Other times, the messages are very intentional, such as when you want your brain to tell your body to help you in lifting something heavy. The body’s ability to do both of these things–have reflexes and follow commands–occurs as a result of the spinal cord having spinal nerves. Each nerve emerges in two branches, which are called roots. There are two types of roots: motor roots (carry commands) and sensory roots (carry information).
What Happens When the Spinal Cord Is Injured
The majority of spinal cord injuries start as a fracture or dislocation of the vertebrae. Rather than a blow or an injury cutting through the spinal cord, the spinal cord is affected when the fractured/dislocated vertebrae tears into cord tissues.
When a spinal cord injury occurs, it is classified as either complete or incomplete. A complete injury means that your brain can no longer send messages to the parts of your body that are located below the spinal cord injury. An incomplete injury means that the brain still has an ability to communicate, but the ability is impaired so only some movement and sensation is possible. When an injury is complete, it result in paralysis from the injury site downwards. While scientists are working hard to develop treatment options to repair spinal cord injuries, today, modern medicine is not able to repair such injuries, and therefore paralysis is permanent.
What Types of Accidents Can Cause Spinal Injuries
As stated above, the majority of spinal cord injuries start with a fracture or dislocation of one of the vertebra in the spine. In order for vertebrae to fracture of be dislocated, a lot of force needs to be applied. This amount of force may be created in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, a bicycle or pedestrian crash, a diving accident, or any type of accident that results in the spine being severely impacted.
Damages Following a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries result in partial or complete paralysis from the site of the injury downwards. This means that a person who suffers a spinal cord injury will not only be unable to move, and perhaps unable to care for themselves for the remainder of their life, but that they will also suffer medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, economic costs for life adjustments, and likely emotional and psychological harm as well.
Working with an Experienced Spinal Injury Lawyer
An injury to the spine or spinal cord is one of the most tragic injury types there is. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that resulted in partial or complete paralysis, our tough yet compassionate South Carolina spinal injury attorneys at the law offices of Peake & Fowler can help you to win compensation that is available to you, and bring forth a claim for damages. Reach us now to schedule your free consultation.