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Spinal Cord Injuries 101


Back injuries are common. The U.S. Department of Labor calls back injuries the nation’s number one workplace safety problem, and says that more than a million workers suffer back injuries every year. When back injuries are severe and the spinal cord is involved, they can and do have life altering consequences.

What, exactly, is a spinal cord injury?

According the Mayo Clinic, spinal cord injuries involve “damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal.” Because spinal cord injuries are essentially nerve damage, the injury cannot necessarily be repaired. However, there are several different types of treatments and therapies that can help.

Spinal cord injuries are divided into types and defined by two main factors; the location on the spine and the severity of the damage. Generally, the lower on the spine the injury is, the fewer effects a victim will suffer. When almost all feeling below the injury site is lost, the injury is referred to as complete. If the victim retains some movement and sensation, it is referred to as incomplete.

When to seek medical attention

Spinal cord injuries are not always immediately obvious. Numbness after an accident can be the result of swelling or bleeding around the spinal cord. The delay between injury and diagnosis can be critical for spinal cord injury victims; the sooner the problem is recognized, the more options you have.

The Mayo Clinic offers the following emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury:

  • Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head or back
  • Weakness, incoordination or paralysis in any part of your body
  • Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in your hands, fingers, feet or toes
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back

If you have been in accident with head or neck trauma, seek medical attention immediately regardless of whether you are experiencing any symptoms. It’s safer to assume that a spinal cord injury has occurred, as your treatment options will be greater.

Unfortunately, despite continuing medical advances, there is no cure for a spinal cord injury. Victims often face life-altering consequences and require continuing medical treatment and expensive medical equipment. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of an accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  At Stipe Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys care about all our clients and fight tirelessly to ensure they receive full and fair compensation. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation in our McAlester office. We have represented clients throughout Southeastern Oklahoma for generations; let us help you, too.