Injuries have a way of making you face your mortality. When you find yourself disfigured, lying in a hospital bed, there is not much to do but think about what it all means, and work hard to make the most of life.
When this happens, people are often left with disabilities that can be life-changing.
It is often said that no two car accidents are alike. It is also true that the long-term effects of spinal cord injuries vary greatly depending upon the type and severity of the injury, as well as other factors such as age and overall health.
Understanding Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that can have long-term effects on the body. It affects the spinal cord, which is a delicate bundle of nerves that passes from the brain down the back and out to various parts of the body. The spinal cord is carrying messages between your brain and body. It’s made up of nerve roots at the top, which carry signals from the brain to other parts of your body, and nerve roots at the bottom, which carry signals back to the brain. If you were to cut open a cross-section of the spinal cord, it would look like a big S-shaped tube with lots of nerve bundles inside it.
You have about 20 pairs of spinal nerves — one pair for each vertebra — that are connected to your spinal cord. When something damages or injures them, it stops those nerves from working properly or causes them not to work at all. That can mean losing feeling or control over part or all of your body below the point where it happened.
Spinal cord injuries are serious injuries that require immediate medical attention. If you have one or more of these injuries, you might have trouble moving or feeling parts of your body. Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis and other problems if they’re not treated right away. They can also lead to long-term disabilities that affect your whole body.
How Do Car Accidents Cause Spinal Cord Injuries?
A car accident can cause spinal cord injuries if the victim is thrown from the vehicle, crushed between two vehicles, or struck by a vehicle. The severity of the spinal cord injury depends on how much force is applied to the spine, which can include:
- The speed at which you were traveling
- The type of vehicle you were driving (car, truck or motorcycle)
- Whether you were wearing a seatbelt
- How far you were thrown from your vehicle
Injuries that occur in car accidents are often very severe and life-changing. In some cases, your spinal cord may have been damaged or severed. This can lead to paralysis or even death if not treated promptly. If you are involved in an auto accident where another person’s negligence causes you serious harm, contact a Houston spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible so they help protect your rights and interests throughout the legal process.
The Long-term effect
The long-term effects of SCI depend on how severe your injury was and where it occurred along your spine. Some people with SCI are able to recover some movement in their arms or legs after some time has passed; others will never regain any movement below their injury site.
The following are some of the most common long-term effects of spinal cord injuries:
A person’s ability to walk depends on several different factors, including the location and severity of the injury. For example, an injury to only one side of the spinal cord may result in partial damage that affects only one leg or foot. This type of injury might cause you to limp or have difficulty walking without assistance, but it should not affect your ability to perform daily tasks such as getting dressed or cooking food.
On the other hand, a complete spinal cord injury means there is no voluntary movement below your level of injury at all and you will need assistance with all activities of daily living (ADLs). A complete injury also means that you will likely require a wheelchair or walker for mobility purposes.
The immediate effect of most spinal cord injuries is paralysis — the inability to move parts of the body below the point where the spinal cord was damaged. Paralysis can be partial or complete:
- Partial paralysis means that some muscles or groups of muscles still work properly while others don’t. For example, you might feel fine but have trouble moving your left arm or leg below your waist.
- Complete paralysis means that no muscles are working below the level where the injury occurred. This can be temporary or permanent.
Impaired bladder function
Impaired bladder function. Your ability to control your bladder may be affected after a spinal cord injury. You may have trouble controlling the passage of urine or stool, so it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your body and notify your doctor or nurse immediately if you notice any problems with urination or bowel movements. You may need to wear a catheter and use drainage bags to collect urine or stool until you regain control of these functions.
Impaired bowel control
Bowel control problems are common among people who have had a spinal cord injury. You may have trouble controlling bowel movements because nerve damage prevents signals from the brain from reaching the muscles in the pelvic floor, which control defecation. The spinal cord also carries signals from the brain to the bowels so that you can empty your bowels without thinking about them. If this ability is impaired following a spinal cord injury, you may need to wear an ostomy bag or use an undergarment with an opening in your skin to allow waste material to pass through. Bowel incontinence can result in embarrassment, social isolation, depression, and anger toward others who don’t understand what you are going through.
Reduced sexual function
The majority of people with SCI will experience some degree of sexual dysfunction following their accident, which can have a significant impact on their lives. Around 30% of men and women with SCI report problems such as lack of interest in sex, difficulty achieving orgasm, and erectile dysfunction. Other symptoms:
- Reduced sexual function
- Reduced fertility
- Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse)
- Increased risk for urinary tract infections
- Loss of sensation in parts of the body below the level of injury
No matter the circumstances or severity of your injury, it is important to talk to a Houston spinal cord injury lawyer in order to begin planning your next steps. With the help of a lawyer, you are sure to receive an adequate settlement. Also, you can take comfort knowing that an experienced lawyer will uncover any liable parties who might be responsible for the accident. By working with so many car accident victims, lawyers can often make connections and analysis that no one else would think to make.
“Credits To Atty. Ben Dominguez”
The past 27 years Ben has successfully litigated high-profile cases resulting in damages paid to his clients and obtained not guilty verdicts and dismissals on behalf of his clients facing serious criminal charges.
Ben has appeared in front of the Texas House and Senate Committees to speak about pending legislation, was a guest on the Texas House Floor for the Governor’s State of the State Address, written the script for a TV commercial for the winning gubernatorial candidate in a governor’s race. Mr. Dominguez has also appeared in industrial commercials filmed in