Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are devastating and affect thousands of Americans annually. In 2021, The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reported approximately 17,900 new cases of SCIs each year.
The spinal cord connects our brain to our body, transmitting signals that control vital functions like respiration, digestion, and heart rate. When an SCI occurs, the connection between the brain and the body’s other systems gets damaged.
Most people who suffer from SCIs recover some degree of movement and sensation. But, recovery depends on several factors, including the severity of the injury, its location, and the patient’s age at the time.
In this article, we’ll look at the common causes of spinal cord injuries and how to prevent further harm. We’ll also look at ways to promote recovery and what to do if you or someone you know has experienced spinal cord damage in Arizona.
Types of SCIs
A spinal cord injury can lead to life-changing complications. There are various types of damage, each with its own symptoms. Some people are left completely paralyzed, while others experience partial loss of function in parts of their bodies.
There are three main categories of spinal injuries: traumatic, degenerate, and neoplastic (cancerous).
- Traumatic injuries include fractures and dislocations.
- Degenerative injuries include disc herniation, stenosis, and slipped vertebrae.
- Neoplastic injuries include cancerous tumors and infections.
Regarding SCIs, there are two categories: complete and incomplete spine injuries.
Complete Spine Injury
This type of spinal injury occurs when the damage is so extensive that no nerve signals are getting through to the body. The spinal cord may be under too much pressure or even severed completely.
Injuries like this often occur due to traumatic accidents. A complete spinal injury can dramatically impact your quality of life and can result in permanent paralysis.
An example of a complete SCI is tetraplegia. The individual experiencing this won’t be able to move their arms or legs. They would need long-term care and rely on others to help with everyday tasks like eating, bathing, and dressing.
Incomplete Spine Injury
By contrast, an incomplete injury involves damage to the spinal cord but not all of it. These injuries may leave the person partially paralyzed.
For example, an individual could have a broken back that leaves them unable to walk without assistance. However, they may regain sensation and learn to walk again with physical therapy.
What Are the Common Causes of Spinal Injuries?
A traumatic spinal cord injury can happen suddenly, causing trauma to the individual’s body and mental state. These SCIs can affect people of all ages, including children, teens, and adults.
However, the majority of victims are male. Males accounted for approximately 78% of new cases in the past few years.
Here we look at the most common reasons:
One of the most common causes of spinal cord injury victims is vehicle collisions, which have led to 38.2% of cases since 2015. Motorcycle and car accidents typically involve enormous forces which can completely sever the spinal cord.
There could be many reasons why motor crashes happen. Many crashes are caused by drivers who are under the influence or speeding in dangerous weather conditions.
Motorcycle Accidents And Spinal Cord Injury
Motorcycle accidents can often result in serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a vital part of the nervous system, carrying signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When it is damaged, it can result in partial or complete paralysis, as well as other complications such as loss of sensation, difficulty breathing, and loss of bladder and bowel control.
Injury to your spinal cord can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma to the spine, compression of the spinal cord, or damage to the vertebrae or surrounding tissues. In the case of a motorcycle accident, the impact of the collision or the rider being thrown from the bike can cause these types of injuries.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident and has suffered a spinal cord injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the injury and the person’s needs, spinal cord injuries can be treated with medicines, surgery, rehabilitation, and other therapies.
We offer a No-cost No-Obligation Spinal Cord Injury Strategy Session Give us a Call 602-547-2222
What Are The 5 Signs Of A Spinal Injury?
There are several signs that may indicate a spinal injury, including:
Neck or back pain: This is often one of the most common signs of a spinal injury. The pain may be sharp or dull and may be accompanied by muscle spasms.
Weakness or numbness: If you experience weakness or numbness in your arms, legs, or torso, it may be a sign of a spinal injury. This can be caused by damage to the spinal cord or surrounding tissues.
Difficulty walking: If you have trouble walking or maintaining balance, it may be a sign of a spinal injury. This could be due to weakness or numbness in the legs, or because of damage to the spinal cord that impacts your ability to control your movements.
Difficulty breathing: If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, it may be a sign of a spinal injury. This can be caused by damage to the spinal cord that affects the muscles used for breathing.
Loss of bowel or bladder control: If you lose control of your bowel or bladder, it may be a sign of a spinal injury. This can be caused by damage to the spinal cord that impacts the muscles used to control these functions.
It’s important to note that not all spinal injuries will have all of these symptoms, and some people may not experience any symptoms at all. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have a spinal injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What Are The Top Traumas Causing Spinal Cord Injury
The top motor vehicle traumas that can cause spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are:
Motor vehicle accidents: Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of SCIs. The impact of the collision can cause trauma to the spine and spinal cord. Head on collisions are the most traumatic.
It’s important to note that these are the most common causes of SCIs, but they are not the only causes. SCIs can also result from other types of trauma, such as work-related accidents or natural disasters. If you have experienced any type of trauma and suspect that you may have a spinal cord injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Risk Factors of Spinal Cord Injuries
Some accidents are outside your control, but there are some common threads that link people who commonly experience spinal cord injuries. Below are a few of the most common risk factors.
Gender: Men have a greater chance of experiencing spinal injuries than women.
Age: Older people are more prone to spinal cord injuries. This is because of degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis. Seniors are also more likely to suffer a fall than younger adults and teens.
Alcohol use: Alcohol use increases the likelihood of falling and sustaining a spinal cord injury. If an individual is intoxicated when they drive, swim, or participate in other activities, they run a higher risk of injuring themselves or others.
SCI patients often face a wide variety of complications in their daily lives. These include:
- Bladder and bowel control problems
- Pressure injury problems
- Blood circulation problems
- Respiratory problems
- Rehabilitation challenges
These complications can cause pain, discomfort, and even life-threatening situations. Also, individuals with SCIs often experience muscle weakness and may struggle to live independently.
Loss of independence can affect the victim’s mental and emotional state due to the drastic change in their lifestyle from what they once knew.
The Importance of Prevention
Taking precautions can prevent many of these injuries from occurring. While you may not be able to prevent every accident, you can minimize the consequences by taking steps to protect yourself.
Below are a few tips for reducing the risk of spinal cord injuries.
- Always wear a seatbelt. If you do experience a car accident, a seatbelt is there to ensure your injuries are not life-threatening.
- Avoid driving under the influence. Intoxicated drivers are significantly more likely to cause an accident than someone who isn’t under the influence.
- Before diving, check how deep the water is. Then, ensure you have enough room to dive, whether swimming in a pool or lake.
- Double-check the doctors’ credentials before surgery. Some surgeons aren’t trustworthy and can put your life at risk.
Rehabilitation After a Spinal Injury
Because the spinal cord is the main nerve pathway, it connects our brain to every part of our body. When it gets injured, there are several symptoms you might experience.
Fortunately, rehabilitation may be able to help restore some function to this vital nerve pathway. With therapy and treatment, even a victim of a complete spinal injury may regain some sensation and regain motor control.
In some cases, recovery isn’t possible, but it depends on what type of injury an individual endured.
There are many different treatment options for patients with spinal cord injuries. Your doctor may recommend rehabilitation therapies to help with recovery or even surgical procedures.
You may need help regaining strength in your muscles, and that’s where physical and occupational therapists can help. They will improve your capability of everyday tasks.
Suppose you’ve injured a part of the spinal cord that affects the ability to talk. In that case, speech therapists have tools and techniques to help you work on regaining those abilities.
Rehabilitation can take months to years to achieve the maximum level of recovery. So having therapists and counselors to help that person’s mental health during that time is also crucial.
However, these treatments can be extremely expensive. If the negligence of someone else caused your injury, the other party might be responsible for your medical bills.
If you need a spinal cord injury attorney to go through the fine details of your situation in Arizona, we at Wade & Nysather, AZ, Accident Attorneys can help.
Connect with a Network of Surgeons and Neurosurgeons
Whether you’ve been affected by minor or severe injuries, our lawyers at Wade & Nysather AZ Accident Attorneys have an extensive network of medical professionals to provide you with the best medical care possible.
They can help you with your health concerns, whether short or long-term. You’ll be left in good hands for whatever personal injuries you wish to receive treatment on, including spinal cord concerns.
Have You Experienced a Spinal Cord Injury?
If you’ve experienced an SCI, you don’t have to navigate this on your own. Instead, contact one of our team members to assist you with what to do next.
We will give advice on whatever stage of your spinal injury you’re at and go from there. So get a No-Obligation, No-Cost Legal Strategy Session with us at Wade & Nysather AZ Accident Attorneys today. Check out our website to discover which other accident areas we focus on to help you.