Each year, approximately 17,000 new people begin to adapt to their new spinal cord injury. These injuries present significant challenges to the patient as well as the family and support system for the person living with spinal cord damage. It can seem overwhelming not only when the injury is first sustained, but also for years afterwards as the patient and the family begin to adapt to life that is much different than before the injury. When someone is spinal cord injured, there can be a great deal of uncertainty and an overwhelming amount of questions.
Spinal Cord Injury Facts
Spinal cord injuries can be sustained in a variety of accidents. However, the leading causes for spinal cord injuries are vehicle crashes. Other ways spinal cord injuries could happen are due to falls, sports activities, or gunshot wounds. Men are especially susceptible to spinal cord injuries, making up approximately 80% of all new spinal cord injuries. More than 5.6 million Americans, or one in 50 people, live with some form of paralysis. Of those, 1.275 million are living with paralysis due to a spinal cord injury.
Spinal cord injuries always require hospital stays and most require stays in rehabilitation facilities as well as ongoing outpatient therapy. Most hospital stays for spinal cord injuries average about 11 days, but more extensive injuries can cause hospital stays exceeding 4 weeks.
Many people with spinal cord injuries suffer some type of paralysis. While cases vary in severity due to different variables of the accident, spinal cord injuries can result in partial or full paraplegia or quadriplegia. For most people living with spinal cord injuries, physical and occupational therapy become an important part of their day as they learn to live independently by using adaptive equipment or specialized techniques.
Depending on the level of their injury, people living with paralysis experience the loss of not just movement and sensation, but also bowel, bladder, and sexual function; breathing; and sweating and temperature regulation, to name a few functions that can be lost. Paralysis impacts life emotionally, physically, logistically, and financially.
The good news is that some people with spinal cord injuries are able to live full and healthy lives. Adaptive sports and equipment allow patients to pursue favorite hobbies or learn new ones, and many are able to return to work with a bit of preparation. Also, a groundbreaking new technique being tested is called Epidural Stimulation. Just as a body’s power can be turned off, epidural stimulation enables it to be, in a way, turned back on. Small electrical pulses re-awaken nerve cells in the spinal cord, re-awakening functions like bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and sweating — and substantially improving an individual’s quality of life.
If you have been injured and are living with the aftermath of spinal cord injury, give the team at O’Brien Law a call. We are ready to assist you to work with insurance companies of the negligent party and to advocate on your behalf. Call us to set up your free consultation today.