Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
When people sustain spinal cord injuries (SCIs) after surviving a traumatic accident, their quality of life will likely never be the same. People living with SCIs often endure physical, emotional, and financial difficulties. Depending on the location of the injury on the accident survivor’s spine, they may face unique challenges that may seem impossible to overcome. However, with the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, accident victims who have sustained SCIs may be able to recover financial compensation for damages they have incurred as a result of their injuries. Click here to read more.
Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) can happen to anyone. They are catastrophic injuries that have severe, permanent repercussions. When people sustain traumatic SCIs as the result of an accident caused by another person, in an instant, they find themselves facing a new world of challenges. Accident survivors who have sustained SCIs can lose their mobility, independence, and livelihoods as a result of another person’s negligence.
During a traumatic event, if the force of impact causes one or more of the accident victim’s vertebrae to break, it can cause permanent damage to a person’s spinal cord. SCIs affect many physiological areas, including strength, motor abilities, and sensations. This is because the spinal cord functions as a superhighway for the brain. Neurological signals are sent from the brain to other parts of the body via the spinal cord. When the spinal cord is severely injured, neurological impulses from the brain will not be able to reach these other body parts. This impediment of neurological impulses can lead to an injured accident victim’s loss of mobility and sensation.
SCIs can be divided into two different types of injuries:
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries: Partial damage to the spinal cord may make it possible for injured accident survivors to move and experience certain degrees of sensation in their affected body parts, depending on the location and severity of the injury. In rare cases, patients with incomplete SCIs may be able to recover some functionality with time.
- Complete Spinal Cord Injuries: Permanent damage to the spinal cord causing paralysis.
In cases of Complete Spinal Cord Injuries, the extent of paralysis will be determined based on the injury’s location on the accident victim’s spine. If the injury is sustained higher up on the body, more extremities may be affected. The types of paralysis are differentiated as follows:
- Quadriplegic: Injuries in the spine’s upper region cause paralysis in the victim’s arms, trunk, legs, and pelvic region (including bowels and the bladder).
- Paraplegic: Injuries in the spine’s thoracic or lumbar regions affect the lower portion of the body, but do not affect the accident victim’s arms.
Each of the spinal cord’s four sections protects a different set of nerves that receive impulses from the brain to control specific bodily functions. Depending on which section of the spinal cord has been injured and the severity of the injury, people with SCIs may face different outcomes. The four different types of SCI are:
- Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries: The most severe type of SCI, these injuries to the topmost region of the spine cause quadriplegia, meaning the accident victim will experience little to no sensation or movement below their neck and shoulders.
- Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries: These SCIs affect the upper-chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles. Accident survivors may be able to use their arms and hands normally with this kind of SCI.
- Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries: The lowest major section of the spinal cord, the lumbar region carries more weight than other sections of the spine, and therefore has large vertebrae. Injuries to the lumbar vertebrae can affect the victim’s hips and legs. Accident survivors with lumbar SCIs often require the use of a wheelchair, however some may be able to walk with leg braces.
- Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries: Pelvic organs are controlled by nerves in the spine’s sacral region. Accident survivors who sustain sacral SCIs may experience some loss of function in the hips and legs, but will likely be able to walk independently. However, accident survivors with this type of injury may no longer have voluntary control of their bladder or bowels.
Accidents That Can Cause SCIs
More than 86,000 Canadians currently live with an SCI. More than half of those injuries were acquired in serious accidents wherein victims sustain external trauma.
According to the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry, the leading cause of SCIs in Canada are slip and fall accidents. These types of accidents can happen in commonplace situations, like slipping in an icy parking lot, as well as more unexpected circumstances, like accidentally falling off a fire escape or balcony.
Other leading causes of SCIs in Canada include:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Sports accidents
- And more
In Nova Scotia, accidents of this nature are often caused by another party’s negligence. Whether the injury was sustained in a motor vehicle collision with a negligent driver or a slip and fall accident on another party’s property, the accident victim will be forced to endure a difficult and expensive process of adjusting to life in their new circumstances.
If someone else’s failure to fulfil their legally required duty of care caused you to sustain a complex, debilitating injury as a result, a Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer may be able to help you pursue accountability and financial restitution.
Facing the Realities of Living with an SCI
The financial burden of living with an SCI can be overwhelming. According to research available through the National Library of Medicine, a single Canadian’s estimated lifetime expenses resulting from a severe SCI can vary between $1.5 million to $3 million.
People who have sustained an SCI may not only be required to pay for expensive medical treatments and attendant care, but their injury may make it impossible for them to return to work. With high costs of living and a reduced earning capability, people with SCIs often find themselves in drastic financial circumstances.
People who have sustained an SCI may also lose their ability to live independently. Adjusting to this quality of life can lead to social isolation, emotional anguish, and severe mental health issues. The process of adjusting to life after a debilitating accident may also have profound effects on victims’ family members, who may also be required to make substantial changes to their lives to provide their injured loved one with the care they need.
How to Pursue Compensation for SCIs Caused by Accidents.
If you sustained an SCI in a motor vehicle collision, regardless of which driver was responsible for causing the accident, you may be eligible to access Section B benefits. These benefits cover costs related to medical expenses, lost wages due to an inability to work, and possibly more. Section B benefits typically cover the costs of required treatment up to $50,000 for four years following your accident.
However, as outlined earlier, the estimated lifetime costs of people living with SCIs can range up to $3 million. That amount does not cover compensatory costs for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
If your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, a Nova Scotia lawyer may be able to help you recover both economic and non-economic damages for losses you incurred as a result of your injuries. This applies to accident survivors who sustained SCIs in motor vehicle collisions with negligent drivers and premises liability cases caused by negligent property owners/occupiers.
By filing a lawsuit against the negligent party who caused you to sustain a debilitating, catastrophic injury like an SCI, a Nova Scotia lawyer may be able to help you recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And possibly more
How Preszler Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help
If you have been seriously injured as the result of an accident caused by another party’s negligence, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to help you recover financial compensation for damages you incurred or will incur in the future. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you are eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.