Connecticut spinal cord injuries: The Basics

People may suffer spinal cord injuries in auto collisions or other accidents and, as a result, may experience lasting, debilitating effects.

Each year, about 17,000 people across the U.S. suffer spinal cord injuries, according to The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. These injuries may result from a slip or fall, motor vehicle accident, assault or any other number of incidents. For many in Connecticut and elsewhere, this is a life changing event. However, those who suffer spinal cord injuries commonly do not understand the implications.

What are spinal cord injuries?

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the back and carries signals between the brain and the body. Spinal cord injuries generally occur when people suffer bruises, tears or other damage to their spinal cords or to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. This may result from a sudden, traumatic blow that fractures the vertebrae or causes a dislocation.

What are the effects of spinal cord injuries?

Spinal cord injuries are classified as either incomplete or complete. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, people who suffer incomplete spinal cord injuries do not completely lose their ability to send and receive messages between the brain and the body. In these cases, they still have some sensory and motor function below their injuries. When people suffer complete spinal cord injuries, they are not able to convey messages below the area where their injuries occurred. Consequently, they typically lose all of their sensory and motor function.

In addition to the loss of feeling and motion, people may experience a range of effects as a result of spinal cord injuries. In general, the symptoms they may have depend on the type and severity of their injuries. Some of the other effects people may suffer due to these injuries include the following:

  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Pain or pressure in the back, neck or head
  • Tingling, numbness or loss of sensation in feet, toes, hands or fingers
  • Intense stinging sensation

After suffering spinal cord injuries, people may also have difficulty breathing, clearing secretions from their lungs or coughing.

How are spinal cord injuries treated?

Immediately following the trauma of a spinal cord injury, urgent medical assistance is vital. People may be immobilized to help keep them from suffering further damage, and they may receive treatment to maintain their ability to breathe and to prevent them from going into shock. In some cases, surgery is needed to stabilize the spine or to remove fragments that are compressing it. Additionally, some patients may be receive medications to prevent them from developing complications or to treat their resulting symptoms. Occupational, physical and mental therapies are also commonly used to help people maintain and strengthen their existing function, redevelop their motor skills, learn adaptive techniques, and to help them adjust to and deal with their injuries.

Working with an attorney

When people in Connecticut suffer spinal cord injuries, they often require extensive medical treatment, and they may be left temporarily or permanently unable to work. This may lead to undue medical costs and lost income. If a spinal cord injury is suffered due to another's negligence, however, the negligent person may be held liable for the resulting damages. Therefore, it may benefit those who have experienced such injuries to discuss their situation with a lawyer to understand their options for seeking financial compensation.