The spinal cord is one of the most crucial parts of the human body. This thick cluster of nerves transmits signals between your brain and the rest of your body, responsible for all actions both conscious, like walking, and unconscious, like blinking and breathing. When the spinal cord sustains injuries, it does not have the ability to repair itself like the rest of the human body, so any damage is permanent.
Since the spinal cord allows the brain to control the rest of the body, a spinal cord injury may result in permanent disabilities like paralysis, motor range deficiency, or even inability to control some bodily functions. The severity and location of the injury are the two most important factors in determining possible future complications or disabilities.
If you recently suffered an SCI, speak to a spinal cord injury attorney in Houston today.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama tracks the most recent data concerning spinal cord injuries in the United States, and they recently published their findings concerning spinal cord injuries in the U.S. since 2015.
- Vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States, responsible for about 38% of all spinal cord injuries since 2015. A car crash can not only cause serious spinal cord injuries, but also brain injuries, bone fractures, internal organ injuries, severe cuts and bruises, and even burns and crushing injuries. Accidents that occur at higher speeds are more likely to result in serious injuries.
- Falling accidents are the second most common cause, responsible for roughly 32% of all spinal cord injuries in the U.S. since 2015. Falls are one of the leading causes of workers’ compensation claims and the top cause for missed days of work. Even seemingly minor falls can result in spinal cord injuries from herniated discs or vertebral fractures.
- Violence, primarily gunshot wounds, represents the third most common cause of U.S. spinal cord injuries since 2015, responsible for about 14%. A gunshot wound or knife wound to the spinal cord can cause catastrophic damage, likely including at least partial paralysis.
- Sports injuries have accounted for about 8% of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. since 2015. Contact sports like ice hockey, football, and rugby generally report the most spinal cord injuries, but such injuries are also common with horseback riding, wrestling, and many other sports.
- Medical injuries represent about 4% of all U.S. spinal cord injuries since 2015. If a medical professional accidentally injures a patient’s spinal cord during surgery, he or she could face liability for medical malpractice and liability for the patient’s resulting damages.
What is the Prognosis for Spinal Cord Injuries?
The outcome of a spinal cord injury generally hinges on two main factors: the location of the injury and the completeness of the injury. A “complete” spinal cord injury is one in which the injury completely severs the spinal cord. The nerve endings below the injury site will no longer be able to communicate with the brain, effectively paralyzing that portion of the body. The effects are less predictable with incomplete injuries. If some nerve attachment remains, the victim could retain motor control, sensation, or a bit of both. In either case, any type of spinal cord injury cannot self-repair and the resulting damage is permanent.
A person who suffers a complete spinal cord injury will likely experience some form of paralysis. An injury to the lower lumbar region of the spine may result in paraplegia of the legs while an injury to the upper part near the skull will result in more extensive paralysis, possibly even quadriplegia.
With incomplete injuries, victims may retain some motor function and require the use of a wheelchair or walker. Incomplete injuries may also interfere with tactile sensations, making it difficult for these individuals to handle going to the bathroom as usual or manage other bodily functions. Spinal cord injuries may not heal over time, but it is possible to learn new skills to live as independently as possible after some spinal cord injuries.