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The Utah Accident Book "The Essential Guide to Accident Cases in Utah"
Utah Spinal Injury
In the United States and in Utah, the leading cause of spinal cord injuries is auto and motorcycle accidents and wrecks. These crashes account for almost 50 percent of spinal cord injury cases a year. Those 65 and older are more likely to injure their spinal cord from falls. These make up about 22 percent of spinal cord injuries. Acts of violence makes up about 15 percent of the injuries, most of them occurring because of gunshot and knife wounds. Athletic events and sporting injuries make up about 8 percent of spinal cord injuries and diseases make up the rest.
The majority of spinal cord injuries cause disability or paralysis and sensation in areas below the area of injury. Generally speaking, the higher the spinal cord injury in the body, the more paralysis. Injuries that occur low in the body will generally only affect the lower extremities, while an injury high in the body can affect the whole body, including the ability to breathe. If the paralysis or loss of movement involves the majority of the body, i.e., arms and legs, it is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. If the spinal cord injury “SCI” affects the lower body, this is called paraplegia.
A spinal cord injury that is traumatic in origin, such as a car accident, can stem from a sudden and traumatic blow to the spine that dislocates, fractures, compresses or crushes one or more of the vertebrae. It can result from a knife or gunshot injury that penetrates and cuts the spinal cord. When the cord get inflamed, additional damage from bleeding, inflammation, swelling can occur.
There are two classifications for a spinal cord injury. They are either considered “partial” or “complete.” Whether they are partial or complete depends on the amount of the cord width that is damaged. A partial spinal cord injury is sometimes referred to as an “incomplete” injury, where the spinal cord is not completely disrupted and is still able to send messages to or from the brain. Those with partial SCI keep some of their sensation and motor function below the area of injury. A complete spinal cord injury is much more serious. Symptoms of a complete spinal cord injury is either total or near-total loss of function and sensation below the area of the spinal cord that was injured.
Whether a spinal cord injury is complete or partial, it is always a serious injury. Some of the symptoms of any SCI are loss of movement, pain or intense stinging, loss of sensation, or numbness, which includes the inability to appreciate heat, cold or touch, difficulty or loss of bladder or bowel control, muscle spasms, changes in sexual function, and difficulty breathing and/or coughing.
The spinal cord and the brain make up our central nervous system. It is this system that controls the majority of functions in our body. Our spinal cords run approximately 15 to 17 inches from the base of our brain to our waist. The spinal cord is comprised of long nerve fibers that carry messages from our brain to various parts of our body. These nerve fibers join with nerve roots that connect at points along our vertebrae – these are the 33 bones that surround our spinal cord and form our back bone. From here, the nerve fibers combine into peripheral nerves that go to all areas of the body. Obviously, any disruption in the signals our spinal cord sends will affect us to a small or substantial degree.
In cases where a spinal cord injury has resulted because of the fault of someone else, legal help should be sought from a lawyer to explore the remedies available. A would be in the best position to get the most value under the law for the injured person.
Medical Information provided by the Mayo Clinic