Spinal Cord Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Spinal cord injuries can be particularly devastating to an individual and their loved ones. Typically, a spinal cord injury will forever change the way you live your life. This type of injury will often drastically impact a person’s life, and may result in a person requiring assistance caring for them or living independently for the rest of their lives. Because personal injury cases can often involve spinal cord injuries, David Boehrer Law Firm provides a list of a few commonly asked questions and answers regarding spinal cord injuries.
Q: If I have a spinal cord injury, does that mean it is permanent?
A: No, not always. Not all spinal cord injuries are permanent. We are fortunate that there are some spinal cord injuries that can be repaired, and some patients are eventually able to regain some functionality through extensive occupational and physical therapy. Medical science is constantly evolving, and new treatments are developed each year to assist spinal cord injury patients in obtaining a higher level of functionality. Unfortunately, many spinal injuries remain permanent, and your medical doctor is the only person who can help you determination the longevity of your condition.
Q: I have a spinal cord injury, does that mean I’ll be paralyzed or experience numbness for the rest of my life?
A: No, not always. Some patients will maintain limited movement and feeling in their extremities, or may experience a type of neuropathy that feels like the lower extremities are “on pins and needles” all the time.
Q: What kind of complications should I expect after a spinal cord injury?
A: Many spinal cord injury patients will face unique health concerns as a result of their injury, some will battle pressure ulcers, or bedsores, resulting from decreased circulation and feeling, and also from the constant body weight over bony prominences. This type of pressure occurs in a healthy person, but when pressure on these areas causes pain they can just shift their weight or turn over in bed to get their circulation going again. For a spinal cord injury patient, the sensation of pain is decreased, delayed, or blocked from reaching the brain like it does in a healthy person, and turning over in bed is not as simple as it would be for a non-injured patient, because the spinal injury patient may find it difficult or impossible to accomplish without assistance.
Bladder and kidney infections are also common complications of a spinal cord injury. These infections occur because many spinal cord injuries affect the injured patient’s ability to urinate. To compensate for the complication, a small tube is generally inserted into the bladder to empty the patient’s urine. The inability to urinate may lead to infection or kidney problems related to the alteration in the normal urinary process.
Q: What does it mean that my spinal injury is “incomplete”?
A: When you are told your spinal cord injury is incomplete, it means your spinal cord is not severed, or is still intact, but that it has been damaged. This condition is likened to bending an electric cord in half, resulting in some of the wires losing the ability to fully conduct an electric current. The spinal cord is part of the nervous system and it works much like the electrical wiring in your house – it functions to conduct nerve impulses from the brain and the body.
Q: What makes a spinal cord injury important?
A: The spinal cord can be compared to a tree as it has a primary trunk of nerve fibers that is protected by the vertebrae (or bones) along your spine, and like a tree, there are many branches of nerves shooting off to the sides to communicate with the other parts of the body.
Nerve fibers work as a kind of super-highway that helps information travel between the brain and the rest of your body. If some part of your highway is broken (i.e., spinal cord), the sensory information is cut off from any part of your body located below the location of the injury and communication from the brain to the affected areas can’t reach their destination. This disruption in communication helps explain why the injured area determines whether a person will be able to walk, use their arms, or breathe independently.
Should you or someone you love have questions about a spinal cord injury you should always seek the advice of a medical professional. The questions and answers provided above are meant to provide a cursory overview of spinal cord injuries and may not be universally applicable. Medical advice is always your best resource in spinal cord injury cases.
Call (702) 750-0750 today for a complementary, confidential, no-obligation evaluation of your personal injury claim.
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