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Back and Spinal Injury Questions
What is spinal cord injury?
The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that runs from your brain and down your back through your spinal column, which is composed of a number of bones known as vertebrae. It connects your body to your brain, allowing your brain to control and regulate the body's function. In a spinal cord injury, damage is done to the nerve bundle or its connecting nerves, impairing its ability to carry signals back and forth from the body to the brain.
What are the types of spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injury can be classified either by the amount of the body affected or by the exact location of the injury. Classification by the amount of the body affected is either quadriplegia (or tetraplegia), paraplegia, or incomplete motor functional injuries. In quadriplegia, a victim is unable to move any of his or her limbs. In paraplegia a victim is unable to move his or her legs but retains control of his or her arms. In incomplete motor functional injuries, an injury victim retains partial function of the limbs. Injuries can also be to the sensory system instead of the motor system.
Exact location of the injury is typically designated with a letter and a number. "C" refers to cervical (neck) vertebrae, whereas "T" refers to thoracic (upper back) vertebrae and "L" refers to lumbar vertebrae (lower back). A number is used to designate at which of the vertebrae injury was sustained.
What are the causes of spinal cord injury?
The most common causes of spinal cord injury are:
Because of its contribution to motor vehicle accidents and violence, alcohol is a factor in about a quarter of all spinal cord injuries.
Who are the victims of spinal cord injury?
Over 80% of all spinal cord injury victims are men, with an average age of about 40. Most victims have a job, but the majority are single, without children.
Do people recover from spinal cord injury?
Rarely. Although a spinal cord injury victim may recover some function of affected limbs as long as 18 months after the incident, only a very small fraction ever recover full function.
Is there a cure for spinal cord injury?
No, although there are many promising avenues of research. We can hope for a cure, but the primary focus must be on helping spinal cord injury victims to adapt to their injuries.
What is the estimated lifetime cost of spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injury can be initially very expensive with ongoing expenses. In 2008, the estimated lifetime cost for a 25-year-old high quadriplegia victim (C1-C4) was over $3 million, with over $800,000 in expenses during the first year alone. For a paraplegic, the lifetime cost is over $1 million, with nearly $300,000 in expenses during the first year. This does not take into account the lost wages of a spinal cord injury victim, which averages about $65,000 a year.
Can spinal cord injury victims work?
Many spinal cord injury victims can work, and most want to. However, it takes time for spinal cord injury victims to adapt to their injuries. One year after injury, only about 12% of victims are employed, a figure that rises to about 35% by 20 years after injury. Few of them are able to match their pre-injury levels of income.
Do spinal cord injury victims have a shortened life span?
Unfortunately, yes, although they enjoy much longer lives than in the past. A person who becomes paraplegic at age 20 has a life expectancy of about 65. A person who becomes quadriplegic at age 20 has a life expectancy of about 60.
How can a spinal cord injury lawsuit help my loved one?
With the high cost of spinal cord injury and difficulty finding employment after injury, a spinal cord injury lawsuit can help your loved one to cover expenses and focus on adapting to his or her injuries.
If you want to learn more about spinal cord injuries and spinal cord injury lawsuits in Alabama, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Long & Waite, P.C. today for a free consultation.