Car accidents often cause serious injury. One of the most serious types of accident injuries is spinal cord injury or SCI. SCI is defined as damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function, such as loss of mobility or loss of sensation.
The spinal cord is a long, thin bundle of nerves and supporting cells that runs from the brain down the spine. The spinal cord is responsible for transmitting neural signals from the brain to the rest of the body. It is involved in both voluntary and involuntary body reactions and reflexes.
When the spinal cord is injured, the signals from the brain can’t reach the lower body. The victim suffers paralysis and may lose movement in the lower body (paraplegia) or the entire body (quadriplegia).
The effects of spinal cord injury are varied and may include:
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of bowel and bladder function; incontinence
- Loss of sexual function; involuntary erection in males
- Difficulty breathing which may require mechanical ventilators or phrenic nerve pacing
- Inability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure
- Inability to regulate body temperature
- Neuropathic pain
- Atrophy of muscle
- Superior mesenteric artery syndrome
- Osteoporosis and bone degeneration
- Gallbladder and renal stones
A spinal cord injury can be classified as complete or incomplete. In complete spinal cord injuries, there is no function in the body below the level of the injury and both sides of the body are equally affected. A person with incomplete SCI may be able to move or have feelings or functions to some degree below the level of the injury.
Most spinal cord injuries are permanent. Victims require life-long care as well as physical and occupational therapy and disability accommodations. SCI affects an injury victim’s ability to work, maintain personal relationships, and enjoy life.
Approximately 450,000 Americans are currently living with spinal cord injury. Every year, there are over 10,000 new cases of SCI. The leading cause of SCI is car accidents, particularly in children. Children who are restrained in lap belts or car seat belts rather than an approved child safety seat are especially prone to spinal cord injury.
If your loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury in an Atlanta traffic accident, contact the Shane Smith Law. Car crash attorney Shane Smith represents victims of motor vehicle accidents in the greater Atlanta area. If you have any questions, call (980) 246-2656