by HGD Staff
A 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in cooperation with the University of New Mexico revealed that as many as 5.4 million Americans are living with some form of physical paralysis. The data for the research came from 2013 and illustrates just how common paralysis is becoming. Perhaps not surprisingly, the leading cause of paralysis is spinal cord injuries.
Key findings from the report included details about demographics and causes of paralysis. For instance:
- Approximately 1.75% of the U.S. population suffers from paralysis
- Roughly 75% of those with paralysis are under 65 years of age
- Other than spinal cord injuries, stroke was another common cause
- Only about 25% of those with paralysis had a college education
- On average, only one in six maintained regular employment
- Two-thirds had weight issues (overweight, obese, or underweight)
- About a third of those with paralysis smoked
Causes of Spinal Cord Injury in America
There are many ways that individuals can suffer a spinal cord injury. These include falls, sports injuries, auto accidents, and physical assaults, just to mention a few. Sadly, in many situations, the victim is in no way responsible for the injury. This means that someone else’s careless or reckless behavior can lead to a serious and life-changing injury from which there may be no potential for recovery.
How Auto Accidents Cause Spinal Cord Injuries
In a motor vehicle crash, a person’s body is moving at the same rate of speed as the vehicle they are in. When the vehicle strikes another object, it comes to an abrupt stop. In other words, the vehicle decelerates very quickly. However, the person’s body continues moving at the same speed it was traveling. Even if properly restrained by a seatbelt, a human male body which, in the U.S., averages about 195 pounds, shakes violently about at speeds of up to 70-80 miles per hour, often striking interior parts of the vehicle with extreme force. This can lead to irreparable damage to internal organs, bones, ligaments, and tendons. There can be muscle damage, as well. The most severe of these injuries occurs when the spinal cord is injured.
Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries
The human spinal cord is only about 18 inches long, on average. It travels from the base of the brain all the way down to the lower back, where it ends in the sacral region. A common misconception is that an ‘incomplete’ spinal cord injury means the paralysis is curable or may be repaired. In reality, the key distinction is just the regions of the body affected, not the severity or permanence of the injury. Likewise, some tend to think that incomplete means the spinal cord is not fully cut or severed. Again, this is a misconception. Rarely is a true “severing” of the cord required to cause paralysis.
A spinal cord injury is often a deep bruise or other crushing force injury to the spinal cord that permanently disrupts blood flow and nerve activity. The effects of a spinal cord injury may include:
- Loss of sensation
- Incontinence of bladder and bowel
- Respiratory deficits
- Much more
Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
A complete SCI is one that affects all sensation and control at or below the point of injury. The higher in the spine the injury, the more significant the loss. For instance, a spinal cord injury to the upper thoracic (mid-back) region of the spine will be considered a complete SCI if there is a “complete” and total loss of sensation and motor function at and below that point. The loss will affect all function and both sides of the body.
An incomplete SCI may only affect one side of the body or may be more severe in one place than another. This is because blood flow may only be restricted in a specific way or some nerves may be unaffected by the injury.
Getting Help After a Spinal Cord Injury
If you or a loved one are suffering from a spinal cord injury after being injured in a slip and fall accident, auto, truck or motorcycle accident, or any other type of injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you have a right to seek compensation for your loss. The law holds people accountable for their actions, and you may be entitled to financial compensation for:
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Adaptive housing and devices
- Vehicle modifications
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish and distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
For a completely free initial case consultation, call Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC today. With offices in Georgia, Alabama, New Jersey, and New York, we stand ready to fight for your rights to help you get the compensation you deserve.