Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is usually caused by a forceful blow that dislocates or fractures your vertebrae. Vertebrae are the disk-shaped bones that are the framework of your spinal column.

The majority of injuries do not actually cut your spinal cord. Pieces of the vertebrae push down on the nerves responsible for carrying signals throughout your body or they tear into the tissue of the spinal cord.

If a spinal cord injury is complete, there is a break in the communication route and messages are unable to be sent to any area beneath the level of injury. This means that paralysis occurs below the level of your injury.

If the injury is incomplete, you will have some sensation and movement beneath the injury.

When a spinal cord injury occurs, it is a medical emergency. If immediate treatment is received, a negative long-term effect may be reduced.

Future treatments generally include rehabilitation therapy and medicine.

Function of the Spinal Cord

Your spinal cord consists of a group of nerves. These nerves travel from the base of your brain all the way down to the lumbar region of your back.

Thirty-one sets of nerves branch out from your spinal cord at various locations. These nerves are used to control different parts of your body. Your chest, abdomen, arms and legs are controlled by way of these nerves. These nerves make it possible for your brain to command the muscles in your legs and arms to move.

The nerves responsible for controlling your arms exit from the top of your spinal cord and the nerves that control your legs branch off at the lower section of your spinal cord.

Nerves also control your bodily functions and organs. For instance, the spinal cord carries the message from your brain that controls your breathing and heart rate.

Other nerves bring information back to the brain from different parts of your body. For example, these nerves inform your brain when you are cold, in pain and give you your sense of touch.

Your spinal cord runs through your spinal canal, which is surrounded by the vertebrae in your back and neck. These vertebrae together make up your backbone. There are cervical (neck) vertebrae, thoracic (chest) vertebrae and lumbar (low back) vertebrae. These vertebrae help protect your spinal cord.

Unfortunately, your spinal cord is unable to repair itself if it becomes damaged. An injury occurs when your spinal cord is damaged by:

  • An inadequate supply of blood
  • Trauma
  • Compression (from infection or a tumor)

Receiving a spinal cord injury diagnosis is dreadful news for a patient and his family.

It is estimated that in the United States there are 10,000 new spinal cord injury cases every year.

Eighty percent of these spinal cord injuries occur in males and two-thirds occur in white males between the ages of 16 to 30.

Cervical Injury

If the injury occurs is in the neck, paralysis of all four limbs is common. This kind of injury can also affect the muscles in the chest and abdomen, which can weaken breathing and cause chest congestion due to the inability to cough properly. This type of injury is referred to as quadriplegia or tetraplegia.

Lumbar Injury

While the injury to an upper section of the spinal cord can cause paralysis of all four limbs, a lumbar injury causes paralysis of both legs. The arms are not affected. This kind of injury is referred to as paraplegia.

There are numerous circumstances that can cause this kind of injury.

These situations include:

Receiving a spinal cord injury diagnosis is dreadful news for a patient and his family. While we realize that no amount of money can replace what has been lost, we strive to help our clients receive substantial financial compensation for the injuries they have sustained.

Our attorneys here at Appel Law Firm LLP in Walnut Creek California, are aware that the compensation you receive is intended to last you a lifetime. That is why we leave nothing to chance. If you or a loved one has been injured, we are here to help.