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Car crashes, trauma and spinal cord injury

You may not necessarily think of spinal cord injury in connection with a car crash, but because of the sudden impact that occurs, this kind of injury makes sense.

However, there are two forms of spinal cord injury. Because symptoms vary, SCI is not always immediately apparent.

What happens

The spinal cord is actually a cluster of nerves that deliver impulses from the brain to other parts of the body. It is vulnerable to injury and if damaged, cannot repair itself. Some sort of trauma, such as a blow to the spine that dislocates or fractures vertebrae, can damage the spinal cord. A car crash supplies the perfect sort of trauma to set SCI in motion.

A look at symptoms

There are two types of SCI: complete injury, in which the victim loses the ability to feel below the level of the injury, and incomplete, which means that some functioning remains. Symptoms vary, depending on the severity of the injury:

  •         Pain or stinging sensation
  •         Loss of mobility
  •         Inability to feel heat, cold and touch
  •         Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
  •         Lack of bladder or bowel control
  •         Difficulty breathing, coughing
  •         Digestive issues

Location matters. If the injury occurs in the neck area, it will likely cause paralysis of both arms and both legs. If the location of the injury is the lower back, only the legs would suffer paralysis.

Seek prompt medical attention

Should you ever become involved in a car crash, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If the doctor suspects that you have a spinal cord injury, imaging tests will be the next step. For example, a CT scan would show both the location and the extent of the damage to your spinal cord. Keep in mind that long-term treatment and rehabilitation are the norm. The doctor will also write up a medical report, which will tie any injury you have directly to the car crash. If you suffer SCI as the result of negligence by another driver, this report will be important when it is time to file a claim for compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages and more.

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