Pascoe Law FirmSpinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Principal office located in Friendswood, Texas.
Available to service League City, Webster, Pearland, Galveston, and the surrounding areas within Texas.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
There are as many as 450,000 people living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the United States and another 17,000 new cases each year. A spinal cord injury can be devastating for both the victim and their family. Suffering a spine or spinal cord injury may have lifelong consequences. The significant recovery time, medical intervention, and the care providers and devices that a spinal injury may necessitate may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. For some, these expenses will be ongoing for life. For others, medical bills may be piling up while you recover enough to return to work.
Purpose of The Spinal Cord
What Makes Up the Spinal Cord?
When an injury occurs at any point in the spinal cord, communication above the injury site to the brain often remains unaffected. Regions at or below the injury site, however, may be damaged. Regions can also be cut off from the brain’s vital neurological messaging causing numerous effects. Common effects include transient (on and off, or moving) chronic and acute pain, numbness, dysfunction, and full or partial paralysis. Depending on the location of the injury, basic functions, such as breathing, eating or sleeping can also be affected.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A severe injury will cause problems in parts of the spine below the actual injury. As described above, a complete injury results in a loss of all function below the injured area. In an incomplete injury, some or all of the functions below the injured area may be unaffected.
Common Injuries to the Spine
A spinal cord injury occurs when damage or trauma to the spinal cord results in loss or impaired function in mobility or sensation. The severity of a spinal cord injury and its resulting consequences depends largely on what part of the spinal cord was affected.
- Injury to the cervical vertebrae (neck) – Sprains or fractures to this region may result in pain, headache, numbness, and limited range of motion in the neck.
- Injury to the thoracic vertebrae (upper back) – A sprain or fracture in this region may result in permanent nerve damage.
- Injury to the lumbar vertebrae (lower back) – A sprain or fracture here may result in chronic pain and limited mobility.
- Injury to the sacral vertebrae (pelvis) – Damage to this area may result in function loss of hips and/or legs, reduced bladder or bowel control, lower back pain, and sensory issues.
Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are classified as either complete or incomplete. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, some sensory or motor function remains intact below the primary level of injury. A complete spinal cord injury results in a total loss of sensory or motor functions below the level of injury. Damage to the spinal cord can result in:
- Paraplegia – Depending on where the spinal cord is damaged, and the severity of the injury, a loss of movement or sensation in the lower extremities may result. Paraplegics are often unable to walk or require assistive devices in order to walk. Because of nerve damage, paraplegia sufferers may also experience problems with the bowel, bladder, and sexual function.
- Quadriplegia – When damage is higher up on the spinal cord, paralysis of both upper and lower extremities may result. A quadriplegia sufferer will lose sensation and the ability to move their body anywhere below the injury site. Additionally, some quadriplegics are unable to breathe without assistance.
- Loss of sensation – When the spinal cord is not severed but is damaged, it may impair your body’s ability to send messages back and forth to the brain. This nerve damage may cause numbness, tingling, and pain throughout the body.
- Foot Drop – Some spinal cord injuries result in a form of paralysis that inhibits your ability to lift the front part of your foot. This results in limited mobility, and an assistive or corrective device is often necessary.
- Secondary Medical Complications – Because the spinal cord is so vital to so many bodily functions, injury to the spinal cord often results in secondary medical problems. People who have suffered a spinal cord injury may be at higher risk for infections, blood clots, bleeding, pneumonia, and spinal fluid leaks. Additionally, the lack of mobility of a paralytic injury brings with it many comorbidities, including pressure sores and diminished lung capacity.
- Death – In the most severe cases, spinal cord injuries can be fatal.
Cervical or Neck Injuries
Cervical or neck injuries usually result in full or partial tetraplegia (quadriplegia):
- C-1/C-2 injuries will often result in the loss of breathing and loss of motion to the portions of the body below the upper neck
- C3 vertebrae injuries and above generally result in the loss of diaphragm function and loss of motion and feeling to the portions of the body below the upper neck
- C4 injuries often result in a significant loss of function at the shoulders and biceps and loss of motion and feeling to the portions of the body below the lower neck
- C5 injuries typically result in the potential loss of function at the shoulders and biceps, and a complete loss of function at the hands and wrists and all areas below the lower neck
- C6 injuries often result in limited wrist control and a complete loss of hand function and loss of all areas below the lower neck
- C7 and T1 injuries generally result in a lack of dexterity in the hands and fingers, with limited functionality of the arms and loss of function to all areas below the lower neck
Thoracic injuries generally result in paraplegia:
- T1 to T8 injuries often result in the inability to control the abdominal muscles and all portions of the body below the neck or middle of the back. A lower level of injury will result in a lower severity of the effects
- T9 to T12 injuries typically result in partial loss of abdominal muscle and truck control and loss of function to all areas of the body at the lower back and below
Lumbosacral injuries typically result in decreased control of the legs, hips, urinary system, and anus:
- Dysfunction of the bowel and bladder is common after a traumatic injury to sacral region of the spine
- The sacral spinal segments are also associated with sexual function. Following a traumatic injury to this area can affect sexual function
- Destruction or cutting of the spinal cord in these areas will result in the loss of use of the legs