Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, are far more common than most people believe. When you include all the possible types of SCIs, spinal cord injuries become some of the more common long-term injuries sustained in vehicle crashes, falls, and other accidents.
A spinal cord injury is defined as any type of injury affecting the spinal nerves, including the grouping known as the cauda equina at the base of the spine. SCIs typically cause permanent damage that may be managed but not cured, although some types of injuries are treatable. Spinal cord injuries lead to physical, emotional and social problems that affect all aspects of a victim’s life.
Spinal cord injuries account for about 11,000 cases per year in the United States. By comparison, 1.5 million people suffer some form of traumatic brain injury each year, although only one percent of these are deemed “severe.” Therefore, in terms of lifelong impact, both SCIs and TBIs have similar incidence rates.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
SCIs are grouped into four types of injuries based on their location and effects:
- Complete tetraplegia. This is the most devastating type of SCI and involves complete loss of feeling and function in all areas below the neck. These injuries are often the result of several traumas to the cervical or neck portion of the spine. Tetraplegia is sometimes referred to as quadriplegia.
- Incomplete tetraplegia. In some cases, tetraplegic effects are not complete, which means that the victim may retain some feeling or movement in arms, legs, and other areas of the body below the neck. However, tetraplegia is always very serious, and most victims will suffer lifelong effects.
- Complete paraplegia. Paraplegia is paralysis or loss of use that primarily affects the areas below the waist. A paraplegic victim may retain the use of his or her arms or hands while still losing the ability to walk. Depending on the location of the injury, the victim may also lose control over bowel and bladder functions.
- Incomplete paraplegia. Just as tetraplegia can be incomplete, so can paraplegia. In this case, victims may be able to walk with assistance or move their legs in some fashion, and they may also retain control over bodily functions.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are caused by a variety of types of accidents, including:
- Falls are the most common cause of SCIs, just behind motor vehicle crashes. A fall can result in a broken neck or back which can leave a victim with permanent damage.
- Motor vehicle accidents. The second most common cause of SCIs is all types of motor vehicle crashes, including motorcycles, cars, trucks, and ATVs.
- Sports injuries. Football, soccer, hockey, and basketball are the sports that result in the most serious injuries to the spinal cord, although any sport can carry certain risks.
- Criminal violence accounts for a percentage of spinal cord injuries every year.
- Abscesses of the spinal cord from poor medical care may lead to paralysis.
- Birth injuries. Babies who are born with significant head or neck injuries may develop problems related to growth.
If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, help is available. The professionals at Barber & Associates have been helping victims of SCIs recover compensation to pay for medical and other expenses for many years. Our track record is indisputable: we have collected millions of dollars for our clients to help them and their families live productive lives. If you have lost wages, medical bills, and other costs associated with a spinal cord injury, be sure you have the support of an experienced spinal cord injury attorney. Call Barber & Associates today.