Approximately 12,500 Americans will suffer a spinal cord injury each year. Aside from recovery, one of the greatest obstacles facing a spinal cord injury patient is the medical cost. According to research, the initial cost of hospitalization averages $140,000 with an average of $198,000 in first year expenses. For quadriplegics that number is closer to $500,000 with an average lifetime cost of over $1.35 million. Only half of spinal cord injury patients are covered by health insurance.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when the cells within the spinal cord are damaged or the nerve tracts that relay signals up and down the spinal cord become severed. This type of injury is usually caused by trauma to the spinal column.
Contusion (bruising) and compression (pressure) are the most common types of spinal cord injuries. Other types include lacerations, caused from a penetrating injury and central cord syndrome, which is specific, damaging the corticospinal tracts of the cervical region of the spine.
Paralysis and loss of sensation below the injury are often the result of severe SCI. This may include loss of autonomic ability such as bowel and bladder control and breathing.
Over time, other symptoms may develop such as muscle spasms, sensitivity to stimuli and sexual dysfunction. Secondary conditions are also a possibility such as bladder infections, lung infections and bedsores.
The Leading Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
The leading cause of spinal cord injury among persons under age 65 is motor vehicle accidents. For persons over the age of 65 the leading cause is falls. There are many other causes of SCI which include:
· Bullet or stab wounds – Bullet and stab wounds are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries, above falls, in people under the age of 65.
· Sports injuries – Spinal injuries occur in contact sports such as football and soccer from landing on the head or being tackled around the neck. New rules have been implemented to reduce the likelihood of SCI to players. Players of extreme sports such as snowboarding and skateboarding are prone to these types of injuries. Actor Christopher Reeve suffered the same type of neck injury after a fall during horse jumping.
· Workplace accidents – Falls from high places are a leading cause of workplace SCI’s
· Diving accidents – Diving into shallow water without knowing the depth can cause an SCI to the neck resulting in full body paralysis.
· Electric shock – Electric shock to the entire body can severely damage the spinal cord. This can occur from a lightning strike, a downed power line or a workplace accident.
Some spinal cord injuries may appear to be minimal, but an examination by a qualified medical professional and radiological testing is required to identify any need for immediate treatment. Untreated, even a minor SCI can cause progressive damage and impair ones ability to function.
A spinal cord injury can result from a herniated disk in the spine that can eventually damage the nerves coming from the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries should be treated immediately as they can be life threatening. Often victims feel that they only have a muscle spasm or a bruised back and delay treatment.
Every spinal cord injury whether the result of an injured disk, an over twisting or bending of the spine or a fracture of the bones surrounding the spine, should be treated at the trauma center without hesitation. If you or a family member is experiencing any of the following symptoms you need to see a neurosurgeon immediately.
· Numbness or tingling
· Pain in the spine or extremities
· Inability to move any body part
· Difficulty bladder or bowel emptying
· Progressive sensory changes
After receiving proper medical attention it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney experienced in spinal cord injuries. Your experienced spinal cord injury attorney knows that the cost of your injuries over a lifetime can be astronomical due to loss of income, medical bills, special needs, rehabilitation and occupational therapy (if you are capable of working). Your attorney understands the life changing trauma you are experiencing and the physical pain you suffer. His or her goal is to recover the compensation you deserve for all you have been through and will endure in the future.
Vititoe Law Group has successfully represented many victims of spinal cord injury. We have recovered the money needed to cover a lifetime of medical costs and lost income along with pain and suffering, loss of consortium and more. If you of a family member received an SCI, contact us right away for a free consultation. We collect nothing until you win. Call 881-991-8900