Spinal Cord Injuries

September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. Learn about the symptoms of a spinal cord injury, and what to do if you think you’ve experienced one because of an accident.

spinal cord injuries

Each year, thousands of Canadians suffer from a spinal cord injury. These injuries can be devastating to someone’s life, and can result in life long care with serious physical and emotional challenges. 

This blog post will explain:

  • How a spinal cord works and what happens when it is injured
  • Symptoms of a spinal cord injury
  • What to do if you think you have a spinal cord injury 
  • How our team of personal injury lawyers can help after a spinal cord injury 

If you have experienced a spinal cord injury because of an accident or fall, Fidelis Law is here to make sure you recover properly and get the compensation you deserve after your accident. Contact our team of personal injury lawyers to get a free consultation for your case, and read the rest of this blog post for more information.

    What is a spinal cord? 

    The spinal cord is a thick bundle of nerves that runs through the vertebrae, also known as backbones, in your spine. This bundle of nerves measures about 18 inches long, starting at the base of your brain and ending at your behind.

    The spinal cord acts as a highway between your brain and the rest of your body. If you want to move any part of your body – from taking a step to wiggling a finger – the message is sent in the form of nerve impulses through your spinal cord. The highway runs both ways: if you stub a toe or touch something hot, the resulting pain and pressure signals are sent back up to your brain faster than you can say “ouch”.

    What is a spinal cord injury? 

    A spinal cord injury is any sustained damage to the spinal cord, or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. This can permanently impact many physiological areas, such as sensations, strength, motor ability, and other functions.

    When the spinal cord is damaged, the highway is essentially closed and nerve impulses can’t get through. This results in loss of mobility and sensation below the level of the injury. 

    Traumatic vs. Non-Traumatic 

    A spinal cord injury can occur because of an impact to the spinal cord from a traumatic event like a car accident, a fall, a violent act or a sporting activity. These are referred to as traumatic spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury can also occur because of a cancerous tumor, inflammation or infection. These are referred to as non-traumatic spinal cord injuries. 

    Complete vs. Incomplete 

    If the spinal cord is completely severed there is complete loss of mobility and sensation below the injury. If the spinal cord is not completely severed, a stream of nerve signals can still get through and may result in some feeling or movement below the injury.

    Levels of Injury 

    There are different levels of spinal cord injuries, and each can affect different body parts and physical abilities:

    Cervical C1-C8

    • Neck injury
    • All four limbs are affected including hands 
    • May not be able to breathe on your own
    • May affect speaking
    • May affect bowel and bladder functions

    Thoracic T1-T12

    • Middle back
    • Trunk and legs affected
    • May affect bowel and bladder functions

    Lumbar L1-L5

    • Lower back
    • Hips and legs affected
    • May affect bowel and bladder functions

    Sacral S1-S5

    • Bottom of the spine
    • Hips and legs affected
    • May affect bowel and bladder functions

    Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury 

    A spinal cord injury can happen suddenly. You can experience one at any given time from playing a strenuous sport, being in a motor vehicle accident, having a serious fall, or doing any high-risk activity. If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important to know how to identify this injury so you can seek medical help immediately if one occurs.

    The most common symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:

    • Pain, numbness or a burning sensation
    • Inability to move or walk
    • Inability to feel pressure, heat, or cold
    • Muscle spasms
    • Loss of bladder or bowel control
    • Difficulty breathing

    Every injury is different and not all spinal cord injuries will present symptoms immediately. Depending on the severity and location of an injury, symptoms could be delayed because of swelling and bleeding around the spinal cord.

    Living with a spinal cord injury can be costly as a result of medical bills, loss of income, hospital stays, rehabilitation and physical therapy, and more. On top of all this, filing an injury claim after your accident can be daunting — which is why we are here to help. 

    If you or a loved one has been in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury, our personal injury lawyers are in your corner and will support you through every step of your claim. Our team will take care of the details so that you can focus on recovering from your spinal cord injury. 

    Contact our team of accident and injury lawyers today!

    The information within this blog post was sourced from Spinal Cord Injury Canada. You can visit their website for more information and resources about brain injuries.

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