Fundamentals of Spinal Cord Injury

View of woman and seat in car
Beautiful girl sitting behind the wheel of a car and smiling

Understanding the Types of Injuries

The Ehline Law Firm faces questions from brain injury survivors often. Many were victims of severe car accidents and slips and falls. Many have back injury claims. Us tort attorneys have to know medicine and the law. So here we answer victim’s questions from our perspective as spine injury lawyers.

Spinal cord injuries remain critical ailments with ongoing health implications. Most of all, they change a person’s lifestyle overnight. Many functions depend on the spinal cord. When a back injury occurs, you are at risk for short-term and long-term complications.

The victim and their family will find it necessary to learn how to manage spine injuries. And this stays part of the ongoing recovery process. It also helps victims understand the art of living with a permanent ailment.

Below are some common complications with spine injuries:
  • Spasms: Spasticity describes increased spasms. It consists of uncontrolled reflexes of limb movement. Spine injury victims often suffer this issue. This suffering happens due to nerves in the spinal cord getting triggered or damaged. So now the brain and nerves no longer communicate the same way. Basically, the spine injury victim no longer controls bodily movements. Medical treatments exist to help reduce spasticity. Although in some cases, the spasms might be beneficial. Spasms help improve muscle tone in the affected area. That will allow the patient to have some stability of the limb. The goal of improving mobility remains possible with this extra stimuli.
  • Urinary: Urinary tract infection or kidney infection and bowel problems can also happen. In that case, the nerves controlling these functions become damaged. Spinal cord impact or twisting remains a primary culprit. In some cases, the brain and body are no longer able to coordinate. So now the bladder and bowel fail to eliminate waste in a controlled manner. In some situations, medications or catheters may be used to treat the problem. In other cases drinking plenty of water and having more fiber in the diet helps with the patient’s condition.
  • Weight Gain or Loss: Weight gain or loss may occur after a spinal cord injury. Damage can affect a person’s ability to exercise and diet. But healthy eating habits and exercise may remain possible. This improvement happens with help from nutrition experts and physical therapists.
Other physical and mental ailments:
  • Depression: This sadness remains a common occurrence in patients who suffered a spinal cord injury. While people recover, some experience some depression. Other symptoms may also be present like anxiety, grief, and stress. So the patient needs to have the support of family. Having friends and care providers could make a huge difference. Victims need to overcome the depressive state of an unfortunate injury. Sometimes great benefits come from hiring therapists. They may help the patient through this challenging period.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: People who have suffered a spinal cord injury often suffer from sexual dysfunction and fertility issues. A plethora of items can still arise, however. Also, this problem affects men more than women. Doctors may prescribe medication and other treatments to increase fertility. Spinal cord injuries rarely affect fertility in women. But pregnancy remains viewed as high risk. And it should only be considered with the assistance of a qualified healthcare expert.
  • Bed Sores: Also, spinal cord injury patients may face bed sores. These happen since patients may be sitting or lying in the same position for extended amounts of time. These get caused by pressure on the skin by the bones that restrict blood flow. This pressure creates a deterioration of the tissue. The result will be a pressure sore. Hence, they get referred to as bed sores. They only affect people unable to be mobile most or all of the time. To maintain healthy skin, patients should frequently get moved around. Other tips include keeping the person clean. And they need to be eating a balanced diet. The patient or the caregiver should inspect the skin often for any red areas. Cuts or sores remain particular culprits. If bones protrude, they rub more. These locations include the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. So any marks, cuts, or sores should be treated right away. You must ensure they remain disaffected.

Spinal injuries can also cause:

  • Neurogenic Pain: This pain originates in the nervous tissue. Further, this causes sensations of burning and stinging. It remains a common occurrence. In some cases, the limbs no longer have feeling or movement. There can also be a pain in other parts of the body. In this way, the body compensates for the numb limbs. Arms used strenuously for wheelchair movement can become numb, for example. Several forms of treatment get used for this symptom.
    • The battery of therapy includes oral medications. It can also include IM and Sub-Q injections.
    • It may include transfusions and stem cell therapy.
    • Furthermore, it could also involve using spinal or brain electrical stimulation.
    • Homeopathic medicine like acupuncture acupressure may help as an adjunct.
    • If all else fails, surgery remains available.
Potential Heart Issues:
  • Heart Rate: One of the significant concerns with this type of health issue remains the heart rate. Because of this, it can slow down a lot. On the other hand, it might rise to an extreme standard after the injury. Also, this might result in heart problems. So these may require medication. Of particular interest, this would include treatments like low blood pressure intravenous blood infusions.
  • Blood Clots: Blood clots are one of the significant concerns with spinal cord damage. And not being able to get around reduces blood flow through the veins. Healthcare providers often prescribe blood clotting medications for patients with these types of spinal cord injuries.
  • Automatic Dysreflexia: This condition occurs due to stimulus. These include skin irritations or a blocked catheter. This provocation results in a message that gets triggered below the injury. This signal then gets sent to the brain. The brain cannot receive the news. And this causes a reflex constricting the blood vessels. Then the heart rate slows and raises blood pressure. So this increases the risk of stroke and in rare cases, seizure. In some cases, this condition can be decreased by changing the position of the patient.
  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia and asthma are complications. These can affect some spinal cord patients. Also, the muscles associated with breathing become weakened. In some cases, it may be necessary for the person to have breathing assistance. Also, the nerves to the diaphragm could be damaged. Flu shots could be prescribed in these cases. Medications may also regulate breathing related issues.
Effects on Your Life

As you can see, many ways exist for a spinal cord injury to affect human life. The nerves leading to and from the brain actually run across the spine. These types of damages will require lifetime care if they are dangerous to your health.

So you must get your questions answered in detail by a spinal cord lawyer specialist. How do you know whether you should settle a negligence claim? The answer is you cannot be sure without legal help. You must retain counsel. You may have to sue.

Citations:

Approach to the Patient and Diagnostic Evaluation Harman Singh, MD Jim Harrop, MD: https://www.jefferson.edu/content/dam/tju/jmc/files/neurosurgery/SPINETRAUMA.pdf

Prevention of Spinal Disc Injuries – PDR Diagnostics: https://www.pdrclinics.com/prevention-spinal-disc-injuries/

Evaluation and Management of Acute Cervical Spine Trauma – Laura Pimentel, MDa,b,*, Laura Diegelmann, MDa,c: https://www.paems.org/

 

Does Whiplash Cause Permanent, Excruciating Pain?

Spine Injury Car crash
The first responder at a rolled over car.

Yes it does. And this is why you should not act so fast to take that first offer of the insurer. Sadly, car accident lawyers will reject cases involving “soft tissue,” or “whiplash.” They say it does not rise to their damages threshold. But other lawyers will dig a little deeper and want to look at CT Scans or MRI’s before they reject your case.

And rightly so. Even soft tissue injuries can ruin a life. But qualified spine injury lawyers go the extra mile to rule this out before rejecting a case. Whiplash often causes permanent, excruciating pain.

Light Stimulus Test.

Chronic whiplash can result in neuropathic pain. Abnormal neural activity in the brain or spinal cord brings it forth. The nerves fire at a lower than usual threshold. Typical problems occur during stimulation or touching.

To a healthy person, this stimulus typically registers as a light pressure applied to the skin. But not so with individuals tainted with this terrible condition. But in their case, the skin getting stroked has become hypersensitive. Now it registers the light pressure as being painful.

Some patients with chronic whiplash have demonstrated symptoms of hypersensitivity. These patients also show permanent neuropathic pain with no cessation. Some patients solely have chronic whiplash. Others have permanent hypersensitivity. Sadly, this remains a long-term condition.

Healthcare professionals prescribe drugs for these types of pain. Much of it was not meant for this purpose. But in many cases, the FDA approves these meds. So then, the FDA says they are ok for use in patients with these particular types of medical conditions.

Off-Label Pain, Drugs Are Expensive and May Not Work.

There are many drugs commonly used for whiplash pain. All of them cost money. If you don’t have insurance, you can go broke. You need money from the person that harmed you for this medicine. Also, some have not become approved for pain management by the FDA. These include Klonopin, Cymbalta, Lyrica, Tegretol, and several others. Also, some proof exists that these drugs are ineffective for chronic whiplash treatment.

They are still frequently prescribed off-label and for other reasons. One of the primary treatments for chronic whiplash remains chiropractic care. Also, this currently accounts for therapy in about 36% of all whiplash victims. It focuses on the most natural and rapid type of healing for this medical condition.

Medical specialists, general practitioners, and acupuncturists treat the other 64% of chronic whiplash cases in the United States. Large and small studies have gotten published. The most important have dealt with the safety of chiropractic care. One of the reviews got done by the very famous and highly cited orthopedic surgeons in the UK. The doctors are named Gargan & Bannister.

Conclusion

The information from these peer studies is second to none. Case treatment for chronic whiplash still gets done by a significant percentage of mainstream healthcare professionals. But they should be using more efficient methods outlined by the below study.

In conclusion, whiplash can be far more severe than people think. In fact, whiplash pain can become permanent and excruciating. So without proper treatment, it can worsen. Proper care remains very relevant. Often a lawyer will be necessary to enforce payments for medical care.

Citations:

“Factors affecting Employment After Whiplash Injury” – Gargan & Bannister: https://www.boneandjoint.org.uk/highwire/filestream/39999/field_highwire_article_pdf/0/506.full-text.pdf


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