Common Causes and Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 200,000 individuals suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the U.S. and, every year, another 12,000 are added to their number. A spinal injury is caused by a severe trauma to the spinal cord or spinal/vertebral column. This usually results from motor vehicle accidents, acts of violence, fall accidents, or sport-related injuries. Majority of those who sustain injury to the spinal cord are males aged between 16 and 30 years old.

The spinal cord is packed with nerves that innervate our entire body. It forms the Central Nervous System with the brain and serves as the main pathway where information or electrical signals are transmitted from the brain to the different parts of the body. Surrounding the delicate nerve tissues of our spinal cord is the Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF), cushioning and protecting it from damage inside the vertebral column.

Nerves in the spinal cord’s upper section control the movement of our arms and our breathing; the nerves in the mid and lower sections of our back allow us to have control on our trunk and legs, sexual function, and bowel and bladder movements. Thus, any damage or harm to the spinal cord (even to the spinal or vertebral column) can cause failure in the transmission of signals from the brain to the parts of the body below the injured area. This can result to paralysis or loss of function on affected parts.

A spinal injury can be due either to a traumatic or a non-traumatic experience. A traumatic spinal cord injury is caused by a sudden blow that can dislocate, fracture or crush an area of the vertebral column; it can result from a car crash, or a knife or a gunshot wound that can pierce and cut the nerves in the spinal cord. A non-traumatic spinal cord injury, on the other hand, is usually the result of an illness, like cancer, arthritis, infection, inflammation or disc collapse of the spine.

Besides lowering blood pressure and reducing control of body temperature, an injury to the spine also causes chronic pains and the inability to effectively regulate blood pressure. Other effects of an injury, as well as their severity, depend on the region actually affected. Loss of movement and feeling in all limbs (arms and legs) implies quadriplegic or tetraplegic injuries. These injuries can also affect the chest muscles which, in turn, can affect our breathing. A paraplegic injury, on the other hand, means loss of movement and sensation in the body’s lower half (including the legs).

The law firm Crowe & Mulvey, LLP says that Patients dealing with paralysis or constant pain will almost always face a great deal of anger and frustration, emotions that can be compounded in situations where the negligence of another caused the injury. While financial compensation is a far cry from a total recovery, an adequate settlement can provide victims with the means to manage the major medical and rehabilitative costs that arise in the wake of a spinal cord injury.

 

 

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