Car accidents are a leading cause of spine and spinal cord injuries. The spinal column is divided into 3 sections: cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), and lumbar spine (lower back). It includes muscles, tissues, vertebra, tendons, and ligaments. Injuries to any part of the spine can cause extreme pain and loss of mobility.
The spinal cord is comprised of nervous tissue, and extend from the brain down through the spinal column. If it is damaged, a person can be left paralyzed. Tetraplegia, also called quadriplegia, is the full or partial loss of use of all four major limbs. Paraplegia refers to the paralysis of the legs and lower body.
Car accidents cause spinal cord injuries (SCI) when a driver or passenger is thrown about the car into other passengers, a dashboard, or even out of the car. An SCI can also occur when the head or torso is whipped back and forth without striking anyone or any object in the car.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries nationwide. About 38% of spinal cord injuries are due to a vehicle accident:
“About 30% of persons with SCI are re-hospitalized one or more times during any given year following injury. Among those re-hospitalized, the length of hospital stay averages about 22 days. Diseases of the genitourinary system are the leading cause of rehospitalization, followed by disease of the skin. Respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and musculoskeletal diseases are also common causes.”
Life expectancies for SCI victims are less than those who haven’t suffered an SCI.
Other common spinal injuries
Even if your spinal cord is not permanently damaged in a car crash, any damage to the spinal column can be catastrophic. Some of the injuries that can cause a lifetime of chronic and debilitating pain include:
- Back strains. These occur when force causes damages to the soft tissues. The tendons which connect the bones to the muscle can be damaged too. For many victims, the pain and mobility are chronic, which means they never fully heal.
- Back sprains. These are similar to back strains, but the ligaments are the more common source of the injury than the tendons. The ligaments connect the bones to your joints and connect one bone to another bone.
- Disc herniation. Jelly-filled discs act as cushions between the bones of the back. In a car accident, the rider’s discs can rupture, bulge, or break. The net result can be numbness and pain up and down the backside. Some disc damage can be treated with chiropractic care. Many patients require steroid injections or surgical treatment.
- Compression fractures. These are small breaks to the spinal vertebra. They can cause difficulty breathing and severe pain as well as permanent damage. In severe cases, the spine may need to be immobilized.
- Fractured vertebra. These are very serious injuries that are usually diagnosed as flexion fractures, extension fractures, and rotation fractures. Car crashes often cause extension fractures which cause the bones to pull apart.
- Whiplash injuries. This type of injury is common in a rear-end-car crash. While whiplash usually refers to the neck it can also refer to the cervical spine.
Other types of injuries include nerve damage and facet joint injuries. Some car accident victims may suffer a related injury called spinal stenosis.
The experienced Huntsville spinal cord injury lawyers at Martin & Helms, P.C. fight to hold negligent drivers responsible for the ways they change the lives of their victims. We demand compensation for all your physical pain, emotional suffering, income loss, medical bills, and inability to function. For help with any spinal cord injury claim, call us at 256-539-1990, or use our easy contact form to make an appointment. Our offices are located in Huntsville and Decatur. We file lawsuits in Athens, Madison, and across North Alabama.