Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries and Permanent Paralysis
November 30, 2018
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), approximately 12,000 spinal cord injuries occur annually in the United States. Furthermore, over one-quarter of Americans live with spinal cord injuries, and they spend a combined three billion dollars each year managing their injuries.
Sadly, 36.5 percent of spinal cord injuries occur during motor vehicle accidents. More than one-quarter of spinal cord injuries result from falls, and the rest are due to sporting accidents, acts of violence, and other causes that are less common. According to NINDS, the average age of individuals with spinal cord trauma is 42.6 years old, and 80 percent are male.
The skilled attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn handle cases that involve spinal cord injuries and permanent paralysis far too frequently. Our significant experience has provided us with valuable knowledge, and below we share important information that may assist individuals who have experienced this type of injury.
What Happens in a Spinal Cord Injury?
Serious harm to any section of the spinal cord or to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal can cause permanent strength, sensation, and other body function damages. Spinal injuries may also affect the mental, emotional, and social status of patients and their families. While research is ongoing into the best treatment for spinal cord injuries, there are currently treatments and rehabilitation processes in place to help injured individuals lead productive and independent lives.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury symptoms depend on the location on the spinal cord where the patient sustained the injury. Some injured individuals suffer incomplete damage, which means that they have some spinal function below where their injury occurred. Others, sadly, suffer complete injury, which means that the injured individual has no function below the injury. Damage to the spinal cord can cause:
- Complete loss of muscle function
- Loss of control of the bowels
- Loss of sensation below the location of the injury
- Loss of normal sex function
- Loss of muscle function
Complications of a Spinal Cord Injury
Numerous difficulties can accompany spinal cord injuries, including complications that make an individual’s day-to-day activities tough to complete. These side effects include:
- Abnormal temperature control
- Excessive sweating, the absence of sweating, or diminished sweating
- Respiratory complications
- Bladder disorders
- Anxiety and depression
- Bowel management
Living With Permanent Paralysis
According to research conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, about 1.2 million Americans live with paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries. This number is five times more than the previous estimate of 250,000 people. Many of these individuals cannot afford health insurance that adequately covers the conditions that are most often linked to paralysis, which may further exacerbate their injuries.
Doctors, nurses, and caregivers are often necessary to care for permanently paralyzed patients, and they may assist in the following ways:
- Skin care treatment (pressure ulcers)
- Physical therapy
- Muscle stretching
- Guarding against sepsis
- Administering medications
- Watching for correct positioning when seated and reclining
Aitken * Aitken * Cohn attorneys have significant experience representing individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries in their personal injury claims. In a recent case, Wylie A. Aitken, a founding member of the firm, and Darren O. Aitken, represented a mother and daughter who were involved in a serious car accident. Another driver struck the right passenger side of their vehicle; both drivers lost control, and both vehicles sustained serious damage. The other driver worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Sadly, the daughter suffered serious injuries, underwent 25 surgeries, and spent 250 days in the hospital; the accident left her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. The mother developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after seeing her daughter injured so severely. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn secured $55,184,288 in compensation for the family.
In another case, noted by the American Association for Justice, a hunter fell from his tree stand and shattered his vertebrae. His injuries resulted in paralysis, and he is now a paraplegic who suffers from severe chronic pain in his hips, groin, and legs. As a result of the accident, he had to quit his job, divorced his wife, and moved in with his elderly parents. Interestingly, faulty gear caused his fall; the polypropylene straps that he used to bind his hunting stand to a tree failed and caused his fall. Primal Vantage, the makers of the straps, never informed consumers that the straps degrade severely when exposed to the environment. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn represented him in a case against Primal Vantage, and the jury ruled in his favor on strict liability and negligence-based warning claims. Our client received $18.49 million for his injuries and an additional $13 million for his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we can promise that our attorneys will do everything they can to ensure that you receive compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Call Us After an Accident Occurs
There are two things to remember after you have been involved in a vehicle accident. First, if there is any person with injuries or there is damage to any of the vehicles involved, call 911 immediately. Second, call an ambulance for any injured parties, especially if you suspect a spinal cord injury. The faster that a victim of a spinal cord injury sees a doctor, the more likely that individual will avoid paralysis.
Another important step is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Our legal team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn has handled numerous spinal cord injury cases, and our attorneys understand the laws and regulations that come into play in these types of cases. Our lawyers will do everything necessary to bring justice to you and your family. You deserve time to take care of your injuries. Your physical recovery is your most important job; let us handle the legal matters. Contact us today at (714) 434-1424 or online.