Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer (Philadelphia, PA)
Approximately 1.46 million people in the United States have some degree of paralysis, due to spinal cord injury (SCI). These injuries are complex and unique to every individual – some people may recover from their injury, while others may suffer lifelong disability and secondary health conditions that lead to recurrent hospitalization. SCIs are estimated to cost about $40.5 billion every year.
The medical costs associated with SCI are high, because they include not only the costs of ongoing treatment, but the lost wages and value of care provided by friends and family members. Often, when someone suffers a disabling SCI, they need round-the-clock assistance and support.
If someone in your household has suffered from an injury to the spinal cord, and you believe another party is to blame for that injury, talk to one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman. Even if your own insurance is covering some costs of medical treatment, it may not be enough to cover long-term care.
Don’t wait to get help. Call us today to request a free consultation: 1-800-LAW-6600.
Causes of SCI
Among people younger than 65, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of SCI. Falls are the leading cause of SCI in people older than 65.
Other SCI causes include:
- Trampoline accidents
- Sports injuries
- Diving accidents
- Gunshots and stabbings
- Infections that cause spinal cord abscesses
- Some diseases that cause inflammation.
The spine is composed of bones called vertebrae that house the spinal cord, which are the nerves that control bodily function. It’s possible for someone to suffer a broken vertebra and not have a spinal cord injury. And it’s also possible to suffer a serious spinal cord injury when the vertebrae are intact. In fact, some severe spinal cord injuries may be undetectable at first.
Many people assume that a severe injury to the spinal cord is one in which the nerves have been completely severed. But any blow to the spinal cord could cause paralysis.
According to the Columbia University Department of Neurological Surgery, when a blow to the spinal cord results in a bruise that disrupts blood flow, symptoms of the injury may not be evident until internal bleeding and swelling increase to the point that they put pressure on the spinal nerves.
SCI Terminology and Symptoms
Partial or total paralysis and loss of sensation may occur below the point of injury, so SCIs that are closer to the skull, among the bones called cervical vertebrae, are the most severe. If those injuries aren’t fatal, they usually result in complete disability because they interfere with the functionality of vital organs.
Total paralysis and loss of sensation below the point of injury is called complete SCI, and nearly 50 percent of all SCIs fall into that category. Partial paralysis and sensation loss is called incomplete SCI.
Complete paralysis of all four limbs is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. People with this type of injury are prone to developing other health problems. About 60 percent will develop pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death among SCI patients. About half will develop pressure ulcers, which may raise the risk of severe infections.
Paraplegia affects only two limbs – usually the legs or feet. And some people may experience only minor losses in sensation in movement with paraplegia.
Types of Incomplete SCI
An incomplete SCI can be just as serious as a complete SCI, depending on which nerves are affected.
One of the most severe incomplete SCIs is anterior cord syndrome, in which a compression or flexion injury damages the anterior spinal artery. People with this syndrome usually experience complete paralysis below the point of injury, but may retain some sensation, such as the ability to feel vibration. The odds of recovering motor function are only about 10 to 20 percent, and this injury has a high mortality rate.
Central cord syndrome is an injury resulting from hyperextension of the neck. It’s more likely to affect people older than 50, but it’s also commonly seen in athletes of any age. It causes a greater degree of lost motor movement in the hands and arms than in the feet or legs. Young people may recover fully from this type of injury, whereas older people tend not to recover.
Brown-Sequard syndrome is a
rare type of incomplete SCI that is often caused by a penetrating wound to the neck or back (such as a bullet wound). On the side of the body opposite the injury, a person with this injury will lose the sensations of pain and temperature. Some loss of movement will occur on the injured side of the body.
Help for Injury Victims
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the total costs associated with an SCI can be roughly $500,000 to $1 million in the first year alone. Subsequent annual costs can be upwards of $68,000.
The attorneys at Wapner Newman understand how SCI costs can overwhelm families. That’s why we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to achieve the best possible outcome. If you need help with a spinal cord injury, contact us online or by phone to ask for your free consultation: 1-800-LAW-6600.