The spinal cord is the roadway over which all messages from the brain to the rest of the body travel. Without those messages, the body is helpless. Exactly which messages are prevented by an SCI depends on what area of the spinal cord is injured, and how severe the injury is. Severe SCIs, especially at the higher levels of the spinal cord, are the most serious and damaging injuries that people can sustain without dying. Our dedicated Houston Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys can get you the compensation you need during this difficult time.
Spinal Cord Injuries can cause:
- Paralysis below the level of the injury, which can be temporary or permanent
- Loss of all or some sensation below the site of injury
- Damage to the autonomic nervous system that controls respiration, heart function and other involuntary actions
The most severe spinal cord injuries completely alter the victim’s previous life. In the long term, severe SCIs shorten the victims’ life expectancy and drastically lower their quality of life.
Causes and Victims of Spinal Cord Injuries: the Statistics
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that, since 2010, most SCIs have been caused by:
- Vehicular crashes (36.5 percent)
- Falls (28.5 percent)
- Deliberate violence like assaults (14.3 percent)
- Participation in sports (9.2 percent)
The typical victim is young and male.
Each year some 12,000 Americans suffer an Spinal Cord Injury during an accident which they survive. Estimates of the total number of SCI victims currently living in the United States vary, but even the lowest estimates approach a quarter of a million people.
Language of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two major distinctions made in Spinal Cord Injuries. The first involves the extent of the injury to the spinal cord. A “complete” SCI leaves no function below the injury level, while an “incomplete” SCI does leave some function below the level of the injury, because some of the cord’s nerve fibers remain functional.
The other distinction involves the victim’s limb function. As a general statement, tetraplegics, also called quadriplegics, have lost function in all limbs while paraplegics still have arm function.
Levels of Injury
When the spinal cord is injured, only the functions at or below the level of injury are damaged. Unfortunately, it is the upper levels, where the cord passes through the neck, that are most susceptible to injury. For the most part, complete cervical injuries can be divided as follows:
- If the injury is below C-7, the victim remains able to perform basic functions that allow self-sufficiency
- If the injury is above C-6, the victim will, given the current state of assistive technology and treatment, remain dependent on others for basic functions
- If the injury is at the C-6 and C-7 level, victims may be able to achieve some independence, but only with considerable effort and difficulty
Long Term Consequences
Among the most serious long term consequences are:
- Lowered life expectancy–people who are 20-years old at the time of injury live 6.5 years less if their injuries are less severe, and 34 years less for those so injured that they need a ventilator
- Employment difficulties, the extent of which depends on the severity of the SCI and, to some degree, the victim’s personal characteristics
- Significant loss of function, especially mobility, control of bladder and bowels, and sexual function
- Severe psychological problems
Due to the severe nature of spinal cord injuries, victims will need more compensation to recover from these types of injuries. Christopher Johns and Keith Lapeze are seasoned Houston spinal cord injury attorneys who can help.
Help for the Injured
Dealing with an SCI is expensive and devastating. The estimated lifetime cost associated with an SCI in the C5 to C8 range is over $3 million when the victim is 25 at the time of injury. You need to start building your case for compensation as quickly as the costs of your injury are piling up. It is essential to have the help of a knowledgable Houston spinal cord injury lawyer to make sure you get the compensation you need.
At the Houston, Texas, law firm of Lapeze & Johns, LLPC, we limit the number of cases we will accept so that we can provide close personal attention to each and every one we accept. We know you by name and we understand the challenges you are facing and the solutions that will give you the means to adapt and move on with your life after suffering a spinal cord injury. Call our personal injury attorneys today for a no-cost discussion of your case.