September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, and it is important that we educate the Triad community about the risks that come along with these types of injuries. Spinal cord injuries are critical, but can also be preventable, which is why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms before they begin. This is to ensure everyone’s safety, security and well-being in the event of the unthinkable.
Know the Facts
Contrary to popular belief, a spinal cord injury goes beyond just the bundle of nerves that connect the body and the brain known as the spine. A spinal cord injury could also impact the surrounding areas, such as discs, ligaments and vertebrae, causing them to break or bleed from the impact sustained. This results in impaired motor, sensory and autonomic function due to the disrupted communication to the brain. Depending on the area of injury and its severity, trauma to the spinal cord can manifest in numerous different ways, including:
- Difficulty walking or moving limbs
- Head in an unusual position
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Stiff neck pain, neck or headache
- Tingling sensation or numbness, spreading into an arm or leg
There is a chance that these symptoms will not show instantly upon impact, which is why it is crucial for you to seek medical attention immediately after being hurt. Waiting it out could make the condition of your injury significantly worse, and for the long haul. Long term effects of a spinal cord injury can be permanently disabling, and require a lifetime of extremely costly medical care and assistance. Long term effects of a spinal cord injury include:
- Permanent partial or full body paralysis
- Losing sense of touch (or any senses)
- Recurring muscle spasms
- Decreased quality of life
- Joint or nerve pain
The Hefty Expenses
Medical bills for a spinal cord injury could cost anywhere from tens of thousands to even a million dollars initially, depending on the severity. High tetraplegia, the most severe neurological disability caused by a spinal cord injury where the victim loses functioning in all four limbs, has the highest average initial expense of $1.1M in the first year. This initial payment is then followed by around $196,000 in each subsequent year.
Neurological damage is almost always comorbid with a spinal cord injury, as less than 1% of victims experience complete neurological recovery by the time they are discharged from the hospital. So anyone with neurological damage such as impaired motor skills due to a spinal cord injury should expect to pay around $360,000 in the first year and approximately $44,000 in the subsequent years. The proper compensation for these expenses is crucial, especially in the event of an accident.
Auto Accidents a Leading Cause
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Regardless of injury type, you should always seek medical help if you find yourself hurt from a car accident. It is advised that you seek medical attention within 72 hours after the date of the crash not only to receive the proper help, but to document your injuries for potential litigation in the future.
There is a likely chance that your insurance provider will attempt to minimize your claim and cut corners on your compensation when you need it most. In this instance, seeking immediate medical attention will leave the proper paper trail to help you win your case. For the sake of your financial future (as well as your health), it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Attention is Prevention
A sudden blow to the spinal cord or surrounding areas can be life-altering and, at the very worst, life-threatening. The best way to address the damage and expenses of this severe trauma is, of course, prevention before it even occurs. There are safety precautions you could take to protect yourself and your loved ones from suffering a spinal cord injury. These include the following:
- Always wear a seatbelt
- Make sure children are in their proper car or booster seats secured with a suitable seatbelt
- Ensure that the condition of all of your airbags is up to par
Additional Spinal Cord Injury Resources
Still want to learn more? There are numerous resources on spinal cord injuries across the web for spinal cord injury victims and advocates alike.
Nationwide Spinal Cord Injury resources include:
- Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness of new treatments, research advancement, and the discovery of possible cures for spinal cord injuries. They are dedicated to advancing the quality of life of those who have suffered traumatic injuries.
- United Spinal Association, a nonprofit membership organization that’s dedicated to improving the quality of life for all spinal cord injury victims. The group provides advocacy and educational resources.
- SpinalCord.com, a national clearinghouse for information related to spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to resources on spinal cord injury causes, symptoms, and recovery, the website includes sections on medical treatment types and legal options.
- North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association, an organization which provides resources, services and peer support for spinal cord injury victims. Their mission is to “enable people with spinal cord injuries to achieve their highest level of independence, health, and personal fulfillment.”
You Can Depend on Us
Even though knowing the facts on spinal cord injuries and practicing safe driving habits are a huge plus for prevention, tragedy could still strike at any time. If you or a loved one has suffered this type of injury in an accident, it is crucial that they receive the help and compensation that they need to move forward — and nothing less.
Unlawfully denied insurance claims will add tremendous insult to injury, so the right representation is a must. Your attorneys at Daggett Shuler will work through it right by your side. Submit a form on our website or call our office at 336-724-1234 for a free consultation. You can depend on Daggett Shuler.