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An Overview of Spinal Cord Injuries
Roughly 12,500 spinal cord injuries occur every year, and approximately 276,000 people are currently living with some type of spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries range significantly in terms of severity. They can be a mere annoyance, or they can lead to long-term health problems and suffering. They can even result in immobility that could change your life entirely.
Spinal cord injuries are commonly caused by accidents that are the fault of another person. That means that if you have a spinal cord injury, you may have a personal injury claim. It is a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney to determine your options if you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident or birth injury.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The term “spinal cord injury” covers a wide range of damages that affect the spinal cord. Technically, any damage to the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal is considered a “spinal cord injury.”
Damage to these nerves can affect some of your most essential functions, including sensations, movement, and strength. You may not be able to control your limbs or other parts of your body after this type of injury.
The Basics of Spinal Cord Anatomy
You may not realize just how vital your spinal cord is to your everyday life. The spinal cord is a column of nerves that runs through your spine. It is protected by the vertebrae in your back. The higher the injury, the more parts of your body it will affect.
Your spinal cord delivers messages from the brain to the rest of your body. Think of it as the command center for your entire body. It is incredibly vital to your ability to function. It controls or affects:
- Motor functions, including voluntary muscle movements
- Sensory functions, including sensations of touch, pressure, pain, and temperature
- Autonomic function, including digestion, body temperature, blood pressure, urination, and heart rate
As you can see, these are essential functions of your body. Damage to your spinal cord can affect any or all of these tasks.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Traumatic injuries are the most common cause of spinal cord damage. Any sudden blow that fractures, dislocates, compresses, or crushes your spine could result in a long-term loss. Damage that penetrates the spine, such as a gunshot or knife wound can also lead to a spinal cord injury. The most common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Auto and motorcycle accidents account for over 35% of spinal cord injuries every year.
- Falls result in about 25% of spinal cord injuries (it is the most common cause for those over 65).
- Violent acts result in about 15% of all spinal cord injuries.
- Sports and recreational activities cause about 9% of all spinal cord injuries.
- Diseases such as cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and inflammation can also cause spinal cord injuries.
Alcohol use is a factor in about 25% of spinal cord injuries.
Getting Legal Help After an Accident
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, you may have legal rights you can assert to obtain compensation. Call the team at Noland Law for more information.