Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
An SCI is damage to at least some portion of the spinal cord—the bundle of nerves that runs down your neck and back inside of the “column” formed by your vertebrae. The cord serves as the communication link between your brain and the other parts of your body, so any cord injury is a major emergency. The faster the victim receives medical care, the better the long-term result is likely to be.
Serious SCIs are devastating to the lives of victims, and significantly alter the lives of family members and those who end up serving as the victims’ caregivers. There are many, many SCI victims living in the United States, and roughly 12,000 new victims are added each year (not counting those who die before getting to a hospital).
Victims of SCI and their families face significant costs in trying to deal with the injury and return the victim to as normal a life as possible. The initial treatment alone is lengthy and expensive, averaging a 12-day hospital stay followed by more than a month in a rehabilitation facility. That is typically followed by continuing need for medical care and for further rehabilitation services. Many SCI victims end up incurring considerable additional costs for expensive assistive devices, personal attendants, alterations of their homes to better accommodate their limitations, and intermittent medical care for complications as they arise.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Anything that exerts enough force on a person’s back or neck to compromise the spinal canal can produce an SCI. Accidents that involve high speeds and/or sharp always carry the potential for an SCI. National statistics collected over recent years show that most SCIs are caused by:
- Vehicle accidents (about 42 percent of all SCIs)
- Falls (26.7 percent)
- Violence like shootings, assaults, etc. (15.1 percent)
- Sports and athletic activity (7.6 percent)
Medical procedures involving the spine, or areas near it, also cause SCIs.
The major distinctions in SCI injuries involve:
- Whether the injury is complete or incomplete
- The level of the injury, measured by the vertebrae near the injury
Complete injuries affect the entire width of the cord and prevent all function below that level; incomplete injuries affect only some of the fibers and allow some function even below the injury.
The level of injury determines which functions are affected, with higher injuries causing more functions to be affected than lower injuries. Higher injuries affect both upper and lower limbs (“tetraplegia” or “quadriplegia”), while lower injuries affect only the lower limbs (“paraplegia”).
Physical Consequences of SCI
The physical consequences of SCI cannot be finally determined immediately after the injury. Some amount of improvement is common in the first few months.
Loss of movement, sensation, and control of various organs are the primary direct consequences of SCIs. Again, the specific organs and limbs affected depend on the level of injury, while the degree of loss of function depends on whether the injury is complete or incomplete and, if incomplete, how much of the cord has been damaged.
Victims may lose all or partial control of:
- Sexual function
The lost functions may, over time, cause other problems ranging from pressure sores on victims who are truly immobile, to osteoporosis, to shoulder pain in victims who overuse their arms to compensate for the loss of leg function.
Effects on Employment and Family
These effects also depend largely on the severity and location of the injury. Overall, SCI victims encounter some employment difficulties. National statistics, for example, show that while 57.5 percent of SCI victims were employed before their injury, only 11.5 percent had employment as of one year post-injury, and, even 20 years post-injury, only 35.4 percent had a job.
The stress that the physical (and emotional) injuries from SCI can put on relationships has been documented. For example, SCI victims:
- Have a higher divorce rate than the general population, both among victims who were married at the time of the injury and those who married after the injury
- Have a slightly lower chance of getting married if they were single at the time of the injury
These finding only address measurable outcomes like marriage and divorce. They do not take account of whether, and to what degree, the relationships suffer without reaching the point of divorce.
Get Quality Legal Help in Western Kentucky
The frequently enormous costs associated with SCIs make it crucial for the victims and families to recover all the compensation they may be due from the person who wrongfully caused the injury. The task of pursuing that compensation is best left to an attorney with extensive experience in both establishing that the defendant is legally responsible for whatever type of accident caused the injury, and proving the considerable damages—both current and future—that the injury has caused.
At the Bowling Green, Kentucky, personal injury law firm of Lowder & McGill, we have that experience, having successfully recovered compensation for hundreds of Kentucky clients in complicated injury cases. We make sure that our caseload allows us to give each case the focus and dedication required to effectively deal with the large insurance companies that are almost always involved in these cases. And we are persistent in protecting our clients’ interests.
Call Lowder & McGill today to arrange a time for a free, no obligation consultation. There is no fee for talking to us, and if we handle your case there is no fee and no out-of-pocket expenses until we succeed in getting you the compensation you need and deserve. The quality of your future depends on it.