Although spinal cord injuries are not common, they can devastate the people who experience them. Not only can they result in total paralysis, but they often require lifelong and expensive treatment for survivors, many of whom cannot recover the lives they once had before the injury. Still, if you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury, it’s important to know that others are out there just like you.
If you’re looking to prevent these types of injuries from happening to you, knowing their most common causes can help you effectively assess and mitigate their risks, potentially preventing a catastrophic outcome.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury is defined as damage to any part of the spinal cord or the tissue and bones surrounding it. Your spinal cord comprises the nerves and cells responsible for carrying messages between the brain and other body parts. It is a sensitive area that, when damaged, can cause the following symptoms:
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness of extremities
- Pain or pressure in the head, neck, or back
- Difficulty with breathing or walking
- Loss of control of bodily functions
- Immediate or slow-onset paralysis
If you or someone you know is experiencing any signs of a spinal cord injury, it’s best to seek medical care from a qualified professional immediately.
5 Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by any activity or circumstance in which something or someone can impact your spine. The five most common sources of these injuries are as follows:
1. Vehicle Crashes
Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States, making up 38.3% of total injuries. That includes motorcycle crashes, which make up 6.8% of that number. It’s always important to take precautions when out on the road, such as wearing a seat belt and avoiding icy roads in the winter.
However, not all accidents are avoidable, such as those caused by drunk or reckless drivers not being alerted to hazardous road conditions. In these cases, the party at fault could be liable for the crash and the resulting injuries.
2. Medical and Surgical Complications
While no one expects a routine medical procedure or relatively minor surgery to end up causing damage to their spinal cord, it does happen. Medical and surgical complications make up 4.3% of total spinal cord injuries, and unfortunately, 43% of those medically-induced injuries result in paraplegia.
When a patient is injured, they must retain a medical malpractice attorney to investigate the situation immediately. An attorney is more likely to be able to uncover whether there were diagnostic or surgical errors that led to the injury, and they can hold the particular medical professional accountable for their mistakes.
3. Diving Incidents
According to the Shepherd Center, the safest dive is the one you never take, as diving is notoriously risky, accounting for 4.7% of spinal cord injuries. If diving into a lake or river where you cannot see the bottom, it’s vital to know that surfaces can shift and objects may be hidden just below the surface. Even when diving into clear pool water, spinal cord injuries can occur by hitting your head against the bottom or far side of the pool.
Though firearm wounds easily take the lead in causing spinal cord injuries in terms of violence, they can also be caused by other forms of brutality, such as the impacts made with a blunt object such as a knife.
Violent acts cause 10.4% of all spinal cord injuries, and many cause more than just physical damage. Victims also experience emotional pain and suffering, which can manifest into experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
Slips and falls account for 25.3% of all spinal cord injuries, and though most of these injury-inducing falls happen to adults over 65, it’s important to note that a fall can happen anywhere and to anyone.
If any worksite or venue is improperly maintained, it can create hazardous conditions that lead to slip and fall injuries. As such, the injured party and any witnesses must identify the environmental hazards that may have caused the fall.
Seeking Help After a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are costly in so many ways. Not only do the victim and their family lose money due to expensive medical bills, lost wages, and a loss of future earning potential, but they can also suffer mental and emotional anguish and a loss of companionship. If someone else’s negligence caused the injury, however, contacting an attorney for help after seeing medical care is critical.
The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. can properly evaluate your personal injury case details and help you seek compensation for losses and damages, helping to pay expensive medical bills and compensate for your pain and suffering. Contact our team today to learn more about your rights and ensure your case gets the attention it deserves.