Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is one of the most important structures in your body. It extends from the base of the head, down the middle of the back, and ends just below the last rib in the waist area. The spinal cord functions as a link between the brain and the body’s limbs and extremities; it communicates messages from the brain to other parts of the body that allow for sensation and movement. As such, the spinal cord is extremely important and when it is damaged, it can have profound, life-changing consequences.Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a column of nerves that is protected by a layer of myelin and secured by 31 butterfly-shaped vertebrae. Doctors split the spinal cord into four major sections (going from top to bottom): cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Injuries to the spinal cord are caused by damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, or disks. This damage could be the result of a traumatic blow (such as in a car accident), an abrupt invasive injury (like a gunshot wound), or the result of natural causes (like arthritis or cancer). The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is car accidents, but falls, acts of violence, and sports injuries are also major contributors.Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can result in one or more of the following symptoms, although this is by no means a complete list:
- Extreme pain or pressure in the head, neck, or back
- Loss of movement
- Weakness, incoordination, or paralysis in any part of the body
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
- Changes in sexual function
- Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from the lungs
- An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back
Paralysis is the most significant effect of injuries to the spinal cord. The type of paralysis involved will depend on where the injury is and whether it is completely severed or only partially severed. Any injury to the spinal cord can potentially result in paralysis, but injuries that are higher up on the spinal cord and those that completely sever have the most severe effects.
Some forms of paralysis that can result from a spinal cord injury include:
- Tetraplegia: Also known as quadriplegia, this type of spinal cord injury results from damage to the cervical spinal cord and is typically the most severe. Tetraplegia eliminates the ability to move below the site of the injury. Thus, the higher up on the cervical spinal cord the injury, the more severe the symptoms will be, including total paralysis.
- Paraplegia: This type of spinal cord injury results from damage to the thoracic spinal cord and results in sensation being removed from the lower half of the body. As with cervical spinal cord injuries, they are typically more severe the higher up on the thoracic spinal cord they are.
- Triplegia: This type of injury is the result of an incomplete spinal cord injury and causes a loss of sensation and movement in one arm and both legs.
If you have been in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be able to receive compensation for. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677 or by sending us an email through our online contact form. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including Marietta, Smyrna, and Decatur.