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Spinal cord injuries: The basics

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Personal Injury

Motor vehicle crashes rank among the leading causes of spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Some of these affect the cervical spine. This area of the spine, located in the neck, is particularly vulnerable to injury during vehicular accidents due to the sudden and forceful movements that can occur.

The consequences of cervical spinal cord injuries are considerable. They affect the physical capabilities of individuals, as well as their emotional and psychological well-being.

Motor function impairment

One of the most immediate and noticeable effects of a cervical SCI is the impairment of motor function. This can range from partial paralysis, known as paresis, to complete paralysis. The level of impairment corresponds with the location of the injury; higher injuries that are closer to the head tend to result in quadriplegia, which is paralysis of all four limbs, while lower injuries may result in partial paralysis affecting the arms and legs.

Sensory loss

In addition to motor function, cervical SCIs can affect sensory perception, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch. This sensory loss can extend beyond the site of injury, affecting large areas of the body. The degree of sensory loss varies. Some individuals experience complete loss in specific areas, while others may have partial or fluctuating levels of sensation.

Autonomic dysfunction

Cervical SCIs can also disrupt the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and digestion. This can lead to a range of complications, including autonomic dysreflexia, which is a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by sudden high blood pressure. Temperature regulation problems and respiratory difficulties are also possible.

Victims of crashes that cause these kinds of injuries need immediate stabilization before they’re moved. Emergency medical care is required, often followed by long-term care. The medical expenses alone are often considerable, so victims may benefit from pursuing a compensation claim from the driver who struck them or other liable parties. Legal assistance benefits these victims so they can focus on healing while their representative takes care of their case.