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Many people think of the spinal cord as simply a collection of bones that support our bodies. However, those who have experienced even a minor spinal cord injury know that this is an oversimplification for a structure in our body that is essential to life. Spinal cord injuries can change a person life dramatically and often require not only extensive but often ongoing and permanent care and treatment.
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, or for any other reason, then you may be able to file a lawsuit to cover your medical expenses as well as compensate for pain and suffering.
What is the Role of the Spinal Cord?
The spinal cord is an essential part of our bodies and plays a crucial role in almost everything that we do. From thinking to breathing, to eating, the spinal cord is more than just a support structure. When you are attempting to understand the role of the spinal cord in an injury you should understand that the spinal cord is a key player in the nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for everything that we feel, see, touch, taste etc. However, it also plays a role in how we think and how messages are transmitted from our brain to other areas of our body. The nervous system is divided into two distinct categories, the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system.
The peripheral nervous system is composed of all the nerves in the body and is further defined as being motor, sensory, or autonomic nerves. These nerves are located everywhere in our body and are crucial in transmitting messages to the brain. Motor nerves are responsible for sending messages from the brain to the body. Sensory nerves play the opposite role and they are responsible for sending messages to the brain about what the body is experiencing. The autonomic nerves are in control of all the automatic functions in our body such as breathing, digestion, and other bodily functions that we do not think about.
Where the peripheral nervous system is located almost everywhere in the body, the central nervous system is more centrally located in one area. The central nervous system is composed of the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves in our eyes that are responsible for seeing, which are known as the optic nerves.
The spinal cord plays a crucial role in the nervous system because it connects the peripheral nerves running through the body to the central nervous system. The spine connects to the brain at the brain stem and the nerves and fibers which make up the nerve portion of the spinal cord run the length of the spine from the brain stem to the lower back. In addition to these essential nerves and fibers, which are about the thickness of a finger, the spinal cord is also composed of 33 individual bones or vertebrae. Each of these bones plays an important role in the nervous system as well because they connect the peripheral nerves through small holes in the bone, which are known as foramen.
How Injuries Affect the Spinal Column
While many people think of the spinal column as a simple rod that travels through the torso, the reality is that the bodily structure is much more complex. The spinal column consists of seven cervical vertebrae located in the neck, 12 thoracic vertebrae located in the chest, five lumbar vertebrae in the back, 5 sacrum vertebrae, and the coccyx (tailbone). Each of the vertebras are connected and protected by a disc structures.
Accidents that Can Cause Spinal Injuries
While spinal injuries can occur in an accident of any type, certain mechanisms of injury are more likely than others to cause serious spine injury. According to statistics compiled by the Mayo Clinic the most common causes for spinal injury includes:
- Car, truck, motorcycle and SUV accidents – Mayo clinic statistics indicate that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of back and neck injuries like whiplash. Motorcycle riders are especially vulnerable due to the small size and little protection their vehicle provides
- Sporting injuries – Athletic activities included diving into a pool, playing recreational sports, hiking and other activities accounts for roughly 8 percent of all spinal injuries.
- Diseases – A number of diseases and degenerative conditions can cause catastrophic injury to the spinal cord including meningitis, cancer, osteoporosis, and inflammatory conditions.
- Alcohol – Bern, wine or other types of liquor plays a role in nearly 25 percent of all spinal injuries. Consuming alcohol significantly increases your risk of suffering a spinal injury.
- Falls – For adult age 65 or older, falls are the leading cause of spinal injury. One in four spinal cord injuries are due to a fall.
- Intentional violent acts – Unfortunately act of violence including stabbings and shootings account for up to 15 percent or all injuries.
Lawsuits for Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries and brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries that a person can sustain. These injuries often result in a complete and total change in a person life. Following an accident, a spinal cord victim may find themselves not only in a dramatically different living situation but also in a drastically different financial situation.
A spinal cord injury can impact many different functions of the body. With almost every spinal cord injury there are certain biological processes that are expected to be affected such as loss of bladder, bowel, and sexual function. In other spinal cord injuries, a person may experience a complete and total loss of sensation or movement and be effectively paralyzed from below the point of injury.
One legal route a spinal cord injury victim may pursue is by filing a personal injury case based on the injury. A personal injury case may be able to provide financial receipt for those who are now straddled with medical bills, who will have to undergo surgeries, or who will have to be under the continued care and medical supervision. In addition to the medical bills and expenses, a personal injury case may provide those injured individuals with a route for recovering for the pain and suffering they endured and will continue to endure as a result of these devastating injuries.
A wrongful death action is another legal route that is pursued after a spinal cord injury. These cases are different from general personal injury cases because as the name of the suit states, these cases are available when a spinal cord injury victim has died as a result of the accident or because of the subsequent injuries. Wrongful death cases are brought by the family members or the next of kin of the deceased, and the compensation packages that family members usually seek is to cover the family for lost wages, hospitalization, and medical expenses, and sadly for funeral expenses.
Trust Experienced Fayetteville Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Ken Kieklak with Your Case
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious spinal injury, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law. He can fight to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages. For your free consultation, call (479) 251-7767 or contact us online today.