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What Accidents Can Result in a Spinal Cord Injury?

In personal injury cases involving a spinal cord injury, it's essential to understand the spine's structure. The spine comprises numerous bones known as vertebrae, with the spinal cord running down through a canal in the center of these bones. This spinal cord is vital as it transmits messages between the brain and the body for movement and sensation.

When it comes to personal injury, acute spinal cord injury (SCI) can occur due to trauma. This trauma can include injuries that bruise, partially tear, or completely sever the spinal cord. Sadly, SCI is a frequent cause of permanent disability and even death among both children and adults who have suffered personal injury. If you have suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury due to the negligence of others, call our spinal cord injury lawyers today.

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DC Spinal Cord Injury Causes

Many things can cause a spinal cord injury. The following are some common scenarios and accidents that can lead to SCIs:

Falls

  • In everyday life, slips and trips are common occurrences that can have unexpected consequences. Whether due to wet floors, uneven surfaces, or debris, a simple misstep can lead to a fall that results in spinal cord trauma.
  • Falls from heights can also cause severe spinal cord injuries due to the impact and force of the landing.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

  • Car accidents are a leading cause of SCIs. Even moderate collisions can jolt the spine, resulting in SCIs. Rear-end collisions, side impacts, and rollovers can all contribute to this risk.
  • Accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles or ATVs can lead to direct impacts on the spine, often resulting in serious injuries.

Sports and Recreational Activities

  • Football, rugby, and other high-impact sports carry inherent risks. Tackles, falls, and collisions during gameplay can lead to SCIs, particularly in the cervical region of the spine.
  • Diving and water sport accidents are also a common cause.  Misjudging the depth of water during a dive or hitting the bottom of a pool or body of water can cause severe spinal cord injuries.
  • Trampolines are popular for recreational purposes, improper use or accidents during jumping can lead to falls that result in spinal cord injuries.

Acts of Violence

  • Intentional acts of violence, such as gunshot wounds, can cause irreparable damage to the spinal cord. Bullets can penetrate and damage the spinal cord tissue, leading to permanent neurological impairment.
  • Stabbings and physical altercations can result in direct trauma to the spinal cord, potentially causing partial or complete paralysis depending on the location and severity of the injury.

Work-Related Accidents

  • Construction sites are inherently dangerous due to heavy equipment, heights, and various hazards. Accidents involving falls, collapses, or falling objects can lead to SCIs among workers.
  • Industrial workplaces with heavy machinery and equipment pose additional risks for workers. Accidents involving machinery entanglement, crushing, or falls can result in spinal cord injuries.

Medical and Surgical Complications

  • Surgical errors, such as mistakes during spinal surgeries, can lead to unintended damage to the spinal cord, resulting in severe neurological deficits.
  • Birth injuries

By knowing the risks and raising awareness, we can take proactive steps to minimize these incidents and build a safer environment for everyone within this dynamic community.

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What Is the Spinal Cord?

The spinal cord plays an essential role in transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Its intricate anatomy and vital function make it a keystone of human physiology. Acting as a conduit for information, it serves as a bridge connecting the brain to the peripheral nervous system. The spinal cord is divided into distinct segments, each corresponding to a specific region of the body. However, this very complexity also renders the spinal cord vulnerable to injuries that can have profound and lasting effects on a person’s life.

Vulnerability of the Spinal Cord

The spinal cord’s location makes it inherently susceptible to injury. Nestled within the bony vertebral column, it lacks the resilience necessary to withstand sudden impacts or trauma. The neck and lower back are particularly vulnerable due to their flexibility, serving as crucial junctions for nerve pathways that control movement and sensation.

Moreover, the spinal cord’s delicate structure amplifies its vulnerability. Comprising bundles of nerve fibers, or axons, that transmit electrical impulses, the spinal cord is a sophisticated network that can be easily disrupted by compression, stretching, or laceration. Any damage to these axons can lead to loss of sensation, paralysis, and other neurological impairments.

Importance of Protecting the Spinal Cord from Injury

Given the spinal cord’s irreplaceable role, protecting it from injury is a paramount concern. Even seemingly minor accidents can result in catastrophic consequences, underscoring the necessity of injury prevention and safety awareness. Ensuring the well-being of the spinal cord involves not only safeguarding it against direct trauma but also making informed choices that reduce the risks of accidents leading to SCIs.

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Types and Severity of Spinal Cord Injuries

Complete vs. Incomplete

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) encompass a spectrum of severity, each with distinct implications for an individual’s functionality and quality of life. One fundamental classification divides spinal cord injuries into two categories: complete and incomplete injuries.

A complete SCI involves the total loss of sensory and motor function below the level of injury. This occurs when the spinal cord is fully severed or significantly damaged, resulting in the inability to control movement and experience sensation in the affected areas. In contrast, an incomplete SCI signifies that some degree of sensory or motor function remains below the level of injury. The extent of impairment can vary widely, leading to a diverse range of outcomes and potential for recovery.

Impact on Mobility and Sensory Functions Based on Injury Level

The level of injury along the spinal cord corresponds directly to the areas of the body affected by the SCI. Different segments of the spinal cord control specific functions and body regions. Injuries occurring higher up on the spinal cord, such as in the cervical region, can result in quadriplegia, affecting both the upper and lower limbs as well as the torso. Individuals with cervical injuries may require extensive assistance to perform daily activities and may rely on assistive devices for mobility.

Conversely, injuries lower on the spinal cord, such as in the thoracic or lumbar regions, can lead to paraplegia, affecting the lower limbs and potentially some abdominal and lower back muscles. Mobility and independence can vary among individuals with paraplegia, as some may use wheelchairs while others can utilize bracing or other aids to walk short distances.

Consequences of SCIs on Overall Quality of Life

The consequences of SCIs extend far beyond physical impairments, encompassing psychological, emotional, and social aspects of an individual’s life. The loss of mobility and independence can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, and depression. Everyday tasks that were once taken for granted may become challenging, requiring adaptive strategies and continuous support. Additionally, the cost of medical care, rehabilitation, and assistive devices can place significant financial strain on individuals and their families.

One of the best ways to combat the devastating impact of such an injury is to work with an experienced lawyer after your accident. Your attorney can fight for maximum compensation after your spinal cord injury accident, enabling you to comfortably take on all the costs associated with life with an SCI. Additionally, if another party is at fault for your injury, your attorney can work to make sure they are held accountable. 

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Seeking Support After Spinal Cord Injuries

In the Washington, DC area and elsewhere, the potential for accidents resulting in spinal cord injuries (SCIs) is a sobering reality. Despite our best efforts, accidents may still occur, leading to spinal cord injuries that can have profound physical, emotional, and financial consequences.  Support groups play a vital role in providing emotional, informational, and social support to victims of spinal cord injuries, offering them a sense of community and understanding as they experience the challenges of their injury.

During these trying times, seeking professional support becomes essential. This is where the expertise of a DC spinal cord injury lawyer can prove invaluable. A personal injury lawyer specializing in spinal cord injuries can provide comprehensive legal guidance, ensuring that the rights and interests of the injured party are protected. A skilled attorney can be a lifeline in securing the resources necessary for recovery and rebuilding. Regan Zambri Long also provides legal guidance for victims of catastrophic injury in Maryland and Virginia.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

Call 202-960-4596

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