Without a doubt, a spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person. The repercussions of a spinal cord injury are far-reaching and life-altering. Even minor injuries can have a major negative impact, and navigating the healthcare and legal systems can be daunting.
Arming yourself with information is the most effective way to regain control over your life. By learning everything you can about your injury and your rights, you can become fully engaged in both your physical recovery and the legal process. Here is information that will help you understand your situation.
What is the spinal cord and why is it so important?
The spinal cord is a thick bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the brainstem to the lumbar region of the spine. It acts as an information superhighway for your body. Messages are sent along the spinal cord to all areas of the body, allowing it to perform a myriad of tasks every day.
The spinal cord is divided into four sections:
Any damage to your spine impacts your ability to function optimally. Traumatic spinal injuries can result in anything from irritating tingling sensations to quadriplegia.
If the spinal cord is the body’s information superhighway, then an injury would be like shutting down the road; the signals from the rest of the body to the brain are impeded. This can limit strength, mobility, and sensation below the trauma site. For example, if it occurs higher in the cervical spine, you could be paralyzed from the neck down. In the case of severe spinal cord trauma, the result is quadriplegia (paralysis in all four limbs). Damage further down the spine can cause lower limb paralysis, lack of bowel or bladder control, and/or loss of lower body sensation.
Needless to say, these injuries are considered severe and require months or years of therapy to regain movement and adapt to chronic limitation or pain. This is why understanding both your injury and your legal rights is imperative for your long-term recovery.
There are two categories for spinal cord injuries:
Traumatic: The result of an event like a car crash, sports accident, or a serious fall. Non-traumatic: The result of a cancerous tumour, inflammation, or infection.
Within these two categories, there are incomplete and complete spinal cord injuries, each presenting with different symptoms.
Incomplete: A person with an incomplete spinal cord injury usually retains some function. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are more common than complete spinal cord injuries partly due to better education on how to administer first aid to car crash victims. Some types of incomplete injuries include:
Complete: A complete spinal cord injury happens when the spinal cord is severed and results in more serious complications. With rigorous long-term therapy and timely intervention, a complete spinal cord injury can heal to the degree that some mobility can be regained. Two of the more common complete spinal cord injuries are:
Spinal cord injuries require treatment immediately. If you’ve been involved in a car crash or sports accident (of which approximately one-third of all spinal cord injuries are a result), remain still and avoid moving your spinal column. Prompt emergency care can increase your odds of both survival and recovery.
Once you receive initial medical attention, other emergency care will be administered, including:
Once your condition is stabilized, your medical team will develop a rehabilitation plan that includes a spinal cord injury specialist, psychologist, social worker, and dietician. You will also require physical, occupational, and recreational therapies as part of your recovery.
Motor vehicle accidents and falls account for the majority of spinal cord injuries in Ontario (roughly 40% per category), with many being the fault of another party. It’s important to understand the extent of the injuries, their short- and long-term impairments, and the kind of support required going forward. This information will help you and your personal injury lawyer seek damages and enable you to recover as fully as possible.
As the victim of a catastrophic injury, your compensation eligibility may include:
If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident or a bad fall in the GTA, contact the personal injury attorneys at Rooz Law in North York at 416-229-6000. The sooner you call, the faster we can work to get the compensation you deserve.
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