Spinal cord injuries (SCI) often cause a permanent loss of at least some mobility and bodily functions, and they can further create seemingly overwhelming physical, emotional and financial challenges for injury victims and their families.
The Pennsylvania law firm of Hagelgans & Veronis is devoted exclusively to helping injury victims, and our personal injury lawyers have a proven record of success in cases related to catastrophic injuries.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury that may have been the result of another’s negligence, please call (717) 295-7009 for your free consultation with one of our expert attorneys; we welcome clients from Lancaster, York and throughout central Pennsylvania.
The Spinal Cord and Injuries
The spinal column is the body’s primary supporting structure, and it is composed of the bones called vertebrae, of which most people have 33 that encase and protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord, in turn, is a critical component of the central nervous system; it is the network of nerves that relays information between the brain and the rest of the body.
The spinal column itself is divided five sections, although the actual number of vertebrae in each segment may vary by individual:
Spinal cord injuries can occur due to trauma that damages the protective vertebrae, or unnatural extension, flexion or rotation of the spinal column and spinal cord. Loss of function is generally more widespread the higher up the spinal column that an injury is located.
- Cervical: The seven vertebrae that span from the base of the skull through the neck area
- Thoracic: The 12 vertebrae that stretch from the shoulders through middle of the back
- Lumbar: The five vertebrae from the middle of the back through the lower back
- Sacrum: The five vertebrae from the base of the lower back through the tailbone area
- Coccyx: The four vertebrae that taper off at the tailbone and the final segment of the spinal column
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to different regions of the spinal column can have varying effects in terms of the extent of impaired function and whether the impairment is permanent.
SCIs located in the cervical region may cause:
Injuries to the thoracic area may result in:
- Loss of sensation below the neck
- Loss of respiratory functions
- Lack of control of bodily functions
- Loss of sexual function
SCIs to the lumbar and sacrum areas may contribute to:
- Loss of sensation below the waist
- Loss of physical dexterity
- Loss of some body function control
- Loss of muscle control in the abdominal region
Although injuries to the coccyx area can be painful and slow to heal, coccyx injuries are usually treatable and mend with no adverse, long-term effects.
- Loss of leg muscle control
- Inability to control the bladder
- Sexual dysfunction
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Any significant unnatural motion to the spine can cause injury, but most SCIs are the result of a sudden traumatic impact.
Spinal cord injuries are an all-too-common effect of motor vehicle crashes including:
Spinal cord injuries are also frequent byproducts of impacts during sports and trauma sustained in slip-and-fall accidents.
Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
The effects of an SCI depend in part of the location of the injury and whether the nerves of the spinal cord were damaged or severed. SCIs often cause lasting changes in sensation and bodily functions below the injury site.
In addition to some of the region-specific effects discussed above, spinal cord injuries can result in generalized conditions that include but are not limited to:
Most spinal cord injuries are considered catastrophic injuries, and they often result in lifelong disability; SCIs and related complications can be fatal. Many people with spinal cord injuries require lifetime assistance and care. Even treatable SCIs are typically accompanied by expensive surgeries, long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation, and ongoing medication use. Costly home, vehicle and lifestyle modifications may also be necessary.
- Partial or complete loss of limb functions
- Respiratory problems
- Loss of control of some bodily functions
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment
Although there is currently no way to reverse spinal cord damage, research into SCI injuries and treatment is ongoing, and some holds hope for current and future SCI victims.
Recent years have brought a greater understanding of spinal cord injuries, as well as advancements in prostheses and medications. In fact, some medications demonstrate promise in promoting nerve cell regeneration and improving the function of nerves that remain intact after an SCI.
In most cases, SCI treatment focuses on preventing further complications and providing injury victims with as great a quality of life as possible. While there are prescription drugs and diverse technologies designed to help people with SCIs live more independent lives, the lifetime costs of living with a spinal cord injury can easily stretch into the millions of dollars, with SCIs often costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first year alone.
Sadly, insurance companies sometimes offer inadequate settlements to SCI victims in order to protect their own bottom lines. Our attorneys understand the long-range costs associated with spinal cord injuries, and we have the trial experience to fight for you in court when insurance provider settlements are unfair for your needs.
If you or a family member sustained a spinal cord injury or other catastrophic injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another, please contact Hagelgans & Veronis online or call us at (717) 295-7009 to schedule your free consultation with one of our accomplished lawyers.
With offices in Lancaster, Quarryville, Mount Joy and York, our attorneys are accessible to our neighbors throughout central Pennsylvania.