Imagine sustaining an injury that affects your entire way of living. The ability to walk, breathe easily, and even control your bladder – the simple tasks we sometimes take for granted are impacted heavily by this type of injury.
This is what a spinal cord injury (SCI) can lead to: a life where you are suddenly reliant on others or on machines to do the things you’ve always done on your own. Along with the physical changes come emotional and psychological ones, too. You may not be able to feel your spouse’s touch, or hug your kids. SCI are among the most catastrophic injuries there are for so many reasons.
How fragile is the spinal cord?
The spinal cord is a collection of nerves connected to the central nervous system. The two main functions of the spinal cord are connecting the nervous system to the brain and acting as a coordinating center for spinal reflexes. The spinal cord is responsible for controlling voluntary and involuntary movements, such as breathing and standing up.
When there is severe damage done to the spinal cord, there is a disruption of the transmission of nerve messages from the location of the injury on down. This is why victims of spinal cord injuries have difficulties with involuntary tasks such as breathing, or simple movements like standing up or scratching an itch.
How can a spinal cord injury happen?
A person can suffer from a spinal cord injury when there is significant damage to either the spinal cord or the vertebrae. Spinal cord injuries are likely when the spinal cord is either cut or penetrated. Spinal cord injuries can also occur when the vertebrae are crushed, dislocated, or fractured from a severe blow. Individuals who suffer from a spinal cord injury experience bleeding, inflammation, and swelling days and weeks after their injury.
What are some of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries?
One of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries in car accidents. The impact of a car accident can cause a person to experience severe damage to the spinal cord, vertebrae, or spinal column disks surrounding the spinal cord. Alcohol and drug use are also commonly associated with tragic vehicle accidents that can lead to spinal cord injuries.
Another leading cause of spinal cord injuries is falling. Falling unexpectedly can lead to severe damage to the spinal cord or vertebrae, mainly a slip and fall accident. Slip and fall accidents have the potential to cause either complete or partial damage to the spinal cord. Just as with car accidents, many fall-related SCIs are a result of drug or alcohol use.
Another leading cause of spinal cord injuries is violence, like gunshot wounds and fistfights. These types of violent situations are usually acts of assault. Medical experts report that violent encounters cause about 12 percent of spinal cord injuries. In addition to gunshot wounds and fistfights, individuals who suffer severe blows around the spinal cord area from objects such as baseball bats and knives are also at risk of obtaining spinal cord injuries.
Sports and recreational activities are other common causes of spinal cord injuries. Medical experts report that sports and recreational activities cause ten percent of spinal cord injuries. Any athletic sport that involves impact with another person increases the chances of a spinal cord injury happening. Some sports with the highest risks of spinal cord injuries are football, wrestling, skiing, rugby, ice hockey, and cheerleading, but horseback riding and snowboarding can also lead to SCI.
What are some risk factors that make people more susceptible to spinal cord injuries?
Although anyone is at risk of obtaining a spinal cord injury, certain risk factors can lead to a spinal cord injury occurring. One of the groups of people most at risk of suffering a spinal cord injury is males between the ages of 16 and 30. Males between the ages of 16 and 30 account for more than half of the spinal cord injuries in the United States.
Individuals who engage in risky behavior such as choosing not to wear the correct safety gear when playing sports or speeding faster while driving are also at risk of succumbing to spinal cord injuries. Excessive alcohol use is another risk factor, as alcohol is responsible for 25 percent of spinal cord injuries.
What can you do to reduce the risk of a spinal cord injury?
One action that people can take to reduce the risk of a spinal cord injury is driving safely. Instead of engaging in behaviors such as speeding, drunk driving, or distracted driving that can lead to serious car accidents, driving as defensively and safely as possible will help reduce the likelihood of a spinal cord injury. For athletes or people involved in a recreational activity, taking the necessary precautions, such as wearing the proper safety gear, helps to reduce the likelihood of a spinal cord injury.
Athletes should also avoid leading with their heads while playing sports, such as using the top of an athlete’s helmet in football. In regard to falls, incorporating additional safety procedures like adding handrails to stairways and adding nonslip mats to the floors will help to prevent falls from occurring.
If you or your loved one suffered a spinal cord injury caused by someone else’s negligence, The Hayden Law Firm wants to help. Please call our office at 314-480-3100 or complete our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation. We proudly serve clients in St. Louis, and throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Attorney Amanda L. Hayden has dedicated her legal career to fearlessly advocating for clients and their families after their lives have been devastated by the careless and/or reckless conduct of others.
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