Spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord as a result of direct trauma to the spinal cord itself or as a result of indirect damage to the bones, soft tissues, and vessels surrounding the spinal cord. According to the National SCI Statistical Center, there are approximately 17,500 new traumatic spinal cord injuries each year in the USA, with 39.3% caused by vehicular accidents, followed by falls, violence, and then sports/recreational activities. Mortality risk is highest in the first year after injury compared to subsequent years.
Spinal cord damage can result in a loss of mobility and feeling. With most spinal cord injuries, the spinal cord is not severed, but this is not to be confused with a back injury- which might result from pinched nerves or ruptured disks. Although a person might break their vertebrae, there may not be any spinal cord injury if the spinal cord itself is not affected. Currently the average age at the time of injury is 42 years old, with males accounting for 81% of new SCI cases.
If you’ve recently experienced a spinal cord injury, it might seem like every aspect of your life has been affected. You might feel the effects of your injury mentally, emotionally and socially. Anyone who experience significant trauma to his or her head or neck needs immediate medical evaluation for the possibility of spinal injuries.
SCI signs and symptoms
Spinal cord injuries of any kind may result in one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Loss of movement
- Loss or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
- Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs
Emergency signs and symptoms
Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury after an accident may include:
- 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
Spinal cord trauma is more than a single event. The initial blunt force damages or kills spinal nerve cells. However, in the hours and days after injury, secondary events, including loss of oxygen and the release of toxic chemicals at the site of injury, further damage the cord. It is very important to receive medical attention as soon as possible to avoid further damage and to begin a proper recovery plan with a trained medical professional.
As the number of people living with paralysis rise and as they age with the injury, the costs associated with treating them increase as well. Each year, paralysis costs the healthcare system billions of dollars. Spinal cord injuries alone cost roughly $40.5 billion annually – a 317 percent increase from costs estimated in 1998 ($9.7 billion). People living with paralysis and spinal cord injuries are also often unable to afford health insurance that adequately covers the complex secondary or chronic conditions that are commonly linked with paralysis.
Medical expenses for spinal cord injuries are often well in excess of a million dollars. Of course, the exact costs vary depending on the severity of the injuries and the number of medical services needed. Some of the most common sources of expense include:
- Spinal surgery
- Trauma care, such as the use of a ventilator
- Rehabilitation, including physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and mental health counseling
- Long-term care, including the costs of in-home aides
- Medical equipment such as wheelchairs
- Medication such as painkillers and antibiotics
One year after the injury, just 11.7% of people with a spinal cord injury are employed. At 20 years post-injury, the figure is 35.2%. Consequently, the loss of earning potential is one of the most significant expenses for SCI survivors and can. Even if you are able to go back to work, you will still have to take time off to recover from your injuries. Unless your employer continues to pay you as you recover, you can expect to lose significant income.
The long-term costs of spinal cord injuries aren’t readily apparent, particularly when you are focused on just surviving. Some of the additional expenses you could incur include:
- Mental health issues related to your injuries. These problems can inhibit your ability to make a living and may also necessitate additional medical expenses.
- Long-term health issues. Spinal cord injury survivors are more likely to die young, and more likely to suffer from medical issues such as respiratory infections.
- Home modifications. Many spinal cord injury survivors must install elevators or ramps to make their homes accessible.
- Additional equipment, such as wheelchair-accessible vans.
Spinal Cord Injury Cases- Seeking Legal Help
If you’re facing a life of living with a spinal cord injury (SCI), or someone you love is, we understand that this time can be full of uncertainty. It is critical to keep in mind that every spinal cord injury lawsuit is different and the circumstances surrounding each case will be unique. Your injury, the facts surrounding the case, how the case is handled, and a variety of other factors will differ on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors your lawyer will consider include:
- Your pain and suffering
- The ability of the other party to cover your damages
- Lost wages and earning potential
- Medical and other expenses
- Court costs, such as the cost of hiring an expert witness
Contact the Los Angeles Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo Today and Receive the Best Possible Legal Service
The Los Angeles catastrophic injury lawyers at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo advocate for injured victims in and around the Encino, California area. We guarantee that your case will be handled with care and sensitivity. Our offices are in Los Angeles and San Diego to conveniently serve clients from all over California. Contact us online today or call us at (833) ACTS-LAW for a free consultation.
As you can see, the unfortunate fact is that spinal cord injury cost often extends far beyond the physical ramifications. When your job is to focus your energy on learning how to live life to the fullest again, the last thing you want to be worrying about is how to piece together the financing for the high cost of spinal cord injuries.