In some cases, the expense related to a spinal cord injury (SCI) is enormous since rehabilitation may continue for months if not years.
How does such an injury occur, and what are the prospects for recovery?
A little background
The spinal cord is the column of nerves that carry impulses from the brain to other parts of the body. The spinal cord is fragile and can suffer damage as a result of an injury to the vertebrae. Along with a fall or a sports accident, a vehicle crash is often the cause of a spinal cord injury (SCI).
Two forms of SCI
With a complete spinal cord injury, the victim will lose all sensation and strength below the location of the injury. On the other hand, an incomplete SCI will allow some level of feeling and movement to remain below the injury site. Someone with a severe neck injury may require a device to make breathing easier. However, it is possible to sustain a back or neck injury such as a fracture to the vertebrae without accompanying paralysis.
Estimates are that a spinal cord injury occurs every 41 minutes in America, which translates to about 11,000 new SCI cases annually. But today there are improvements in emergency treatment for spinal cord injuries. Once doctors stabilize an SCI, an aggressive rehabilitation program is the next step for minimizing nervous system damage and for restoring certain levels of bodily functions. There are also new surgical techniques. Along with advancements in spinal nerve regeneration, neuroprotection and cell replacement, researchers feel confident that SCI is on a path to eventual repair. Meanwhile, the victim of a spinal cord injury has a right to expect compensation to cover current and future medical expenses and more.