Next to a fall, a vehicle crash is the most common cause of a spinal cord injury, or SCI.
Symptoms vary, but a spinal cord injury can be devastating if the damage is severe. However, today there are advances in treatment protocols and new hope for SCI patients.
About spinal cord injury
The bundle of nerves that make up the spinal cord carry impulses from the brain to other parts of the body. Located inside the vertebral column, the spinal cord is delicate and cannot repair itself if damaged. The severing of the spinal cord is not necessary in order for changes in function to occur and symptoms of SCI can range from pain to incontinence to paralysis of arms or legs.
SCI takes two forms: complete and incomplete. In a complete injury, the victim will have no feeling or strength below the site of the injury and will therefore experience some form of paralysis. Those with an incomplete SCI will still have some level of feeling and movement below the injury site.
Current treatment and the future
Paralysis does not always occur. For example, the vertebrae could fracture from the impact of a vehicle collision without the spinal cord suffering significant damage. However, those who suffer serious SCI may face long-term disability. Encouraging results from ongoing research indicate that SCI may one day be repairable. Meanwhile, new emergency care procedures, surgical techniques and aggressive rehabilitation programs are helping to restore many functions that once seemed doubtful. While the medical costs are great, victims of SCI have the right to anticipate financial compensation to cover these expenses and more.