Our spinal cord is the pathway which delivers impulses from our brains to the whole of our bodies. Any obstacle or impediment that obstructs the path can have devastating consequences. Accordingly, spinal cord injuries sustained in a car accident may result in life-altering injuries or even death. Even if the accident victim survives a spinal cord injury, the victim might never fully recover and suffer permanent or long-term paralysis.
Despite recent developments in spinal cord rehabilitation which gives a spinal cord injury victim a chance to walk one day again, the prognosis for a car wreck victim suffering from a spinal cord injury is bleak. Spinal cord injury victims will need surgery to repair broken bones in the neck, mid-back, or lower back to stabilize the fracture and hopefully reduce spinal cord impingement. Surgeons will use various medical devices such as rods, screws, mesh, cages, or spinal fusion to repair the bones.
The recovery and rehabilitation time from that type of procedure is lengthy and grueling. The spinal cord injury victim will require long term residential care in a rehabilitation hospital to recover from spine surgery. Sadly, the victim will need to be taught how to perform the simplest of tasks as though the person was a child again. Physical therapists will work with the victim to hopefully regrow or reroute signals from the brain to body parts to teach the body to move as it did before the accident. Furthermore, the spinal cord injury sufferer might require around the clock care if he or she cannot move and is completely paralyzed, for the remainder of his or her life.
Type of Spinal Cord Injuries in Auto Accidents
The damage resulting from a spinal cord injury occurs below the level of the injury. According to neurosurgeons who treat spinal cord injury patients, the majority of spinal cord injuries occur due to trauma. Therefore, younger men are more likely than any age group to sustain a spinal cord injury. Each year, approximately 10,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. and 8,200 of those victims are men who fall between the ages of 18 and 30. Overall, experts estimate that 250,000 to 400,000 people are living with some degree of spinal cord injury in the U.S.
Neurosurgeons agree that a spinal cord injury will fall into one of two categories. A spinal cord injury is either complete or incomplete. If the injury to the spinal column is complete, then there the victim cannot move anything voluntarily below the injury. However, an incomplete spinal cord injury victim will retain some ability to move voluntarily below the injury. With a complete injury, the patient will have no sensation below the injury. By contrast, a person with an incomplete spinal cord injury might have feeling below the affected area even if the victim cannot move anything. Therefore, with a complete injury, the chances of regaining any sensation or mobility are almost nil while the victim who suffered an incomplete injury has a better prognosis for some recovery.
Damages for Spinal Cord Injury Victims
The medical losses alone stemming from a spinal cord injury could be astronomical. The surgery, rehabilitation, and constant care of a spinal cord victim alone will far exceed most insurance policies held by motorists. Medical damages are not the only damages which a spinal cord injury victim could claim. The victim can claim loss of earnings and earnings potential and any other economic costs lost because of the accident. The victim can also claim non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life.
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