Understanding Virginia spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries are a potentially serious condition that may have a life-changing impact on those who suffer them, as well as their families.

As a result of a fall, motor vehicle accident, assault or any other number of incidents, people may suffer sudden blows that cause serious head, neck or spine trauma. In some cases, this may cause displaced disc material, ligaments, bone fragments or other things to compress, severe or otherwise damage the spinal cord, resulting in serious spinal cord injuries. Potentially having life-changing effects, it may be important for those who have suffered such trauma to have an understanding of their injuries.

Common spinal cord injury symptoms

Depending on the type, severity and location of the trauma, people may experience a range of symptoms as a result of spinal cord injuries. Some of the most common of these include the following:

  • Loss of sensation and feeling
  • Loss of movement
  • Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflexes
  • Extreme pain or pressure
  • Numbness or tingling in upper or lower extremities

In some cases, people's injuries may be complete, meaning they have lost all their sensory and motor functions below the area of their injuries. When people retain some movement control and feeling below the affected area, their injuries may be classified as incomplete.

Complications resulting from spinal cord injuries

Whether complete or incomplete, spinal cord injuries may cause a variety of secondary complications. In some cases, people may experience bladder and bowel control issues, which may make them more susceptible to contracting urinary tract or kidney infections or to developing kidney stones. Circulatory and respiratory system control issues are also common following spinal cord injuries. Consequently, people may be at a greater risk of developing blood clots, suffering from low blood pressure, or contracting pneumonia or other lung disorders. Those who have suffered spinal cord injuries may also experience fertility and sexual functioning issues, depression and other ailments as a result of their conditions.

Living with a spinal cord injury

Since damage to the spinal cord cannot be reversed, most treatment of these injuries focuses on minimizing the effects of the trauma, preventing further personal injury and preventing secondary issues. In the acute treatment stages, medical professionals may immobilize patients' necks, take steps to prevent shock from setting in, and work to maintain their ability to breath and to avoid other possible complications. Some patients may receive medications to decrease inflammation, reduce damage to the nerve cells or treat other symptoms. In some cases, people may also require surgery to stabilize the spine, remove objects that may be compressing it or to prevent future issues.

Once spinal cord injuries are stabilized, people may still require treatment. Medications or other treatments may be administered to help manage some of the effects of these injuries or to stave off some of the possible complications. Additionally, people who suffer spinal cord injuries often require extensive rehabilitation to help maintain and strengthen their existing muscle function, learn adaptive techniques and redevelop their fine motor skills.

Obtaining legal counsel

Often, those in Virginia and elsewhere who suffer spinal cord injuries require emergent and ongoing medical care. In some cases, their ability to work and provide for themselves and their families may be permanently altered. For some, this may lead to significant undue medical expenses, as well as lost wages and other damages. When such injuries are the result of a motor vehicle collision or another accident, however, the at-fault driver or responsible person may be held financially liable. Therefore, people who have suffered such injuries may benefit from discussing their situations and options for seeking compensation with a legal representative.