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What is a spinal cord injury?

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Posted on September 20, 2021

Overview: Spinal Cord Injury

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NIH) Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, with catastrophic falls a close second. Additional known causes are acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds) and sports/recreational activities. In fact, there are approximately 18,000 new spinal cord injuries every year in the United States.

Personal Injury Attorneys traditionally will assist victims of spinal cord injuries in pursuing claims when the victim was not at fault for their injuries. As spinal cord injuries are more severe than traditional accident cases, it is very important that victims have assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney, and not a general practice attorney.

Spinal Cord Injury vs. Back Injury 

It should be noted that there is a difference between spinal cord injuries and back injuries and how they are treated. Back injuries are much more common, and they encompass damage to your vertebrae and muscles, and often can be treated with chiropractic care. However, a spinal cord injury is damage to the tight bundle of cells and nerves that send and receive signals from your brain to and from the rest of your body, and often leads to temporary or permanent paralysis below the injury.

Spinal Cord Injury Treatment

Spinal cord injuries require immediate treatment beginning at the accident scene. Anyone with loss of feeling below a neck or back issue should move as little as possible. We also encourage our clients to agree be put on a backboard with a special collar around the neck to prevent any further damage to their spinal cord. Treatment at a trauma center may include realigning the spine and emergency surgery to remove any bone fragments or other objects that might press on the spinal column.

Rehabilitative may include breathing assistance using a machine that produces forced air, treatment for any respiratory or circulation problems, pain medications, and learning new ways to address bladder and bowel problems. A rehabilitation team is often needed to assess individual needs and oversee the creation of a rehabilitation program that combines physical and other therapies with skill-building activities, training, and counseling to aid recovery and provide social and emotional support, as well as increase independence and quality of life.

Additionally, a spinal cord injury can result in temporary or permanent changes in sensation, movement, strength, and body functions below the site of the injury. If the spinal cord injury does not cause little or no cell death, then the injury may allow for a complete recovery. However, if the cells are damaged or die, anything below the injury will result in complete and permanent paralysis.


As you can see, there is a lot of care and treatment that go into spinal cord injuries, including the immediate emergency services, surgeries, rehabilitation and long term care. These are not free. Often victims are left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. These victims need a personal injury attorney who understands spinal cord injuries.