It should not be entirely surprising that the number one cause of spinal cord injuries is motor vehicle accidents. Automobile crashes combine each vehicle’s huge mass and rate of velocity, impacting human bodies that are sitting still and weigh several thousand pounds less. As a result, the critical bundle of tissue and cells making up the spinal cord, though shielded by bony vertebrae, can be damaged.
What are Spinal Cord Injuries? Who is at Risk?
A spinal cord injury is an acute traumatic injury of the spinal cord resulting in varying degrees of motor or sensory issues, according to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Severe cases may require long-term medical treatment and strenuous rehabilitation. Osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis can lead to increased vulnerability to spinal cord injuries, and even older people who undergo the normal aging process are more likely to sustain injuries because of a narrowed spinal canal, according to the National Institutes for Health, the U.S. government’s medical research agency.
Most spinal cord trauma, however, happens to young, healthy individuals, according to the NIH. Over 80 percent of spinal injuries happen to males, according to the Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Almost half of all spinal cord injuries are caused by automobile crashes, according to the Center. NewYork-Presbyterian attributes the high number of injuries arising from car accidents to alcohol and drug use as well as failure to take safety precautions, especially not wearing a seatbelt.
Region of Injury Determines Severity
The severity of trauma depends on what section of the spinal cord is damaged. This is because weakness and sensory loss occur at and below the injured area. Injuries near the top of the spine result in more extensive disability than do injuries low in the spine, according to the NIH. Injuries to any of the neck areas of the spinal cord can result in quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs; spinal cord lesions in the chest or lower back can result in paraplegia, or loss of leg movement.
According to the NIH, additional complications that can occur include:
A spinal cord injury lawyer can help motor vehicle accident victims recover compensation for the many financial and emotional costs that typically result from these traumatic events.