The injuries that result from a car accident can cause many years of financial hardship, even if you make a full recovery. If your injuries are severe enough to require surgery, hospitalization, or both, then the medical bills will likely be in the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. Being out of the workforce while you recover from your injuries makes the economic hardship related to the injury even worse. Now imagine how much more disruptive it is if your injuries are so severe that you require treatment for the rest of your life and that you are no longer able to work at the same job where you were employed before the accident if you are even able to work at all. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury or another serious injury in a car accident, the Kansas City, Missouri car accident lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC can help you regain the financial stability that you lost because of the unfortunate car accident.
The Spinal Cord and its Disorders
The spinal cord is encased in your vertebrae; it extends from just below the brain to the middle of your lower back. Its purpose is to transmit signals from your brain to your peripheral nervous system, the nerves that control other parts of the body, as well as transmitting sensory information to the brain. The spinal cord is connected to the other nerves through 31 spinal nerves. The 31 locations on the spinal cord connect to a pair of nerves; the nerve in the front is the motor root, controlling function, and the one in the back is the sensory root, which enables your brain to register feeling in the part of the body connected to that spinal nerve. The uppermost spinal nerve is a motor root only. The spine protects the spinal cord from injury, but severe trauma to the back or neck can cause spinal cord injury.
The main symptom of a spinal cord injury is the dysfunction of motor function and feeling in the parts of the body located below the injured area of the spinal cord. In the mildest cases of incomplete spinal injury, it can manifest itself as pain, numbness, weakness, and poor muscle control. In the most severe cases, known as complete spinal cord injury, it can cause paralysis, which is the inability to move the affected body parts, as well as the loss of feeling in them. An injury to the lower parts of the spinal cord can result in paraplegia, which is paralysis from the waist down and the inability to use one’s legs. Spinal cord injury that affects the cervical spinal cord (located in the neck) causes paralysis of the whole body from the neck down, including the inability to use one’s arms and legs.
Any kind of severe trauma to the back or neck can cause spinal cord injury. Sometimes fractured vertebrae and spinal cord injury occur together, but it is possible to have one without the other. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injury, but it can also happen when a heavy object falls on a person, as well as from an accidental fall or a gunshot wound.
Famous Cases of Spinal Cord Injury:
Some famous people have suffered spinal cord injuries. All of them survived for many years after the injury occurred.
- Chinua Achebe, a professor and novelist, most famous for his novel Things Fall Apart, suffered a spinal cord injury in 1990 in a car accident. As a result of the accident, he was paralyzed from the waist down and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He died in 2013 at age 82.
- Curtis Mayfield, a musician whose most famous compositions include the song ‘People Get Ready’ in 1965 and the soundtrack to the film Super Fly in 1972, suffered a spinal cord injury in 1990 when stage lighting equipment fell on him. As a result of the accident, he was paralyzed from the neck down, although he continued to sing. He died in 1999 at age 57.
- Christopher Reeve, an actor most famous for portraying “Superman” and three of its sequels, suffered a spinal cord injury in 1995, when he suffered a neck injury in a horseback riding accident. Despite being paralyzed from the neck down, he continued to act in films and on television. He died in 2004 at age 52.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Affect Your Life:
Simply not being able to use your arms or legs is a terrifying thought for most people, but the complications of severe spinal cord injuries can be even worse than that. As a direct or indirect result of the injury, many patients experience the following complications:
- Pressure ulcers
- Breathing difficulties
- Burns or frostbite as a result of not being able to feel heat or cold
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Loss of sexual function
- Loss of muscle mass or bone density
Management and Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury
With the use of a wheelchair or motorized scooter, spinal cord injury survivors are able to participate in some of their pre-injury activities. A few patients have been able to walk with the help of a medical device known as a robotic exoskeleton. As of 2020, there is no cure for spinal cord injuries, although research continues with the aim of improving existing treatments and finding new ones.
The Financial Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury
Even for people who are able to work after a spinal cord injury, the financial consequences are often devastating. Between medical devices, prescription drugs, physical therapy, in-home health aide services, and the treatment of complications, the medical bills can pile up. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation in order to pay them.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Motor Vehicle Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Kansas City motor vehicle accident you need to speak with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.