As a spinal cord injury lawyer, I have seen the devastating effects of severe spinal cord damage. A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord, or nerves at the end of the spinal canal, that can cause permanent loss of function and feeling in the areas of the body located below the initial injury. Commonly, these injuries are known as paraplegia or quadraplegia, but may also involve other types of paralysis such as parasthesia. They are typically caused by either severe personal injury from motor accidents or gunshot wounds, or by diseases such as sepsis or septic shock resulting in spinal cord infarction. Severe spinal cord injuries can occur due to a sudden hit to the spine and can lead to either paraplegia or quadriplegia. Paraplegia is the loss of feeling and ability to operate the legs while quadriplegia causes paralysis in all limbs; neither of these conditions have a cure, however doctors and scientists are working and researching hard in hopes of finding a way to repair SCIs.
The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system and carries information from the brain to other areas of the body; because of this, when the spinal cord is injured the patient experiences many differences in their body functioning abilities. Those who have SCIs are frequently required to undergo rigorous rehabilitation therapy after any necessary surgical measures are taken. For example, loss of bladder control can be a symptom of a SCI because the patient’s brain may no longer be able to send information to their bladder when the spinal cord is damaged; during rehabilitation, these patients learn new methods to clear their bladder.
Those who suffer from spinal cord injuries like paraplegia or quadraplegia usually experience some of the following symptoms: muscle spasm, the inability to feel hot or cold temperatures, tingling, numbness, and trouble breathing. The severity, or “completeness,” of an SCI is determined by its “neurological level,” or the lowest part of the spinal cord that remains unaffected after the injury. When a patient has some motor function or feeling beneath the injury it is considered incomplete, and when they have zero motor function or feeling the SCI is considered to be complete.
The spinal cord is composed of four separate regions. The cervical portion includes the head and neck, and is at the top of the spine. Injuries to the cervical spine can cause both incomplete and complete loss of sensory function and are typically very serious. The thoracic portion of the spinal cord covers the upper and middle areas of the back and is meant to hold the body upright; injuries to the thoracic nerves can cause paraplegia. The lumbar portion is the lowest important section of the spine and bears the most weight; lumbar spine injuries affect function in the hips and legs. Finally, the sacral portion between the tailbone and lumbar spine. Sacral spine injuries are rare, but can cause loss of function in the hips and legs.
If you or a loved one experiences a severe personal injury resulting in paraplegic or quadraplegic condition, you should contact an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer, like a medical malpractice lawyer in Cleveland, OH from Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co, L.P.A., promptly for advice in handling such a complex case.