The spine is a complex system of bones, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. The nerves that run from the base of the brain to the waist constitute the strong yet delicate structure known as the spinal cord. Virtually any type of trauma may cause injury to the bony and connective structures of the spine, to the disks that cushion the segments of the spine known as vertebrae, to the nerves that exit the vertebrae, or to the spinal cord itself. Regardless of the type of accident, spinal cord injuries can result in full or partial paralysis and can lead to serious life-altering functional damage. Our Stamford, Connecticut spinal cord injury lawyers represent victims and helps them recover compensation from legally responsible parties. Contact Casper & de Toledo today to learn more about these injuries and how our firm can help you through the legal process ahead.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Located in Stamford, Connecticut
Spinal cord injuries are among the most complex types of injuries and should only be handled by an experienced Fairfield County, Connecticut personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the medical aspect of these injuries. Casper & de Toledo fights hard for its clients by using the latest technology. These are examples of radiological studies and medical illustrations used by spinal cord injury attorneys at Casper & de Toledo in Stamford, Connecticut.
Spinal cord injury cases present a unique set of challenges because of the extraordinary needs of the patient/client. Examples of such challenges were summarized in an article published in the Connecticut Law Tribune concerning a negotiated settlement obtained by Stewart Casper involving a client who sustained a devastating spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia. Click here to learn more.
Basic Spinal Cord Information
Along with the brain, the 18-inch-long spinal cord forms the central nervous system. Around the cord itself are hoops of bones known as vertebrae. These backbones are part of the spinal column.
The nerves of the spinal cord are called upper motor neurons, which transmit messages from the brain to other parts of the body. These messages are sent to lower motor neurons, or other spinal nerves, which correspond with more particular parts of the body.
These signals control movement, feeling, and bodily functions like bladder and bowel control. They also regulate certain reflexes, telling specific muscles to move in response to various commands. There are millions of axons (parts of neurons that carry these messages) throughout the spinal cord, which compose various tracts within the spinal cord.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injury, or SCI, can lead to functional deficiencies, such as loss of sensation or mobility. Often the spinal cord is still intact, yet it has been damaged in some way. It qualifies as a SCI if the spinal cord itself (not just the vertebrae, or surrounding bones) is affected. Usually, if the vertebrae are damaged, the bones are dislocated, which then apply damaging pressure on the spinal cord or adjacent structures. However, fractures to the vertebral column may not always be apparent. Also, spinal cord injury can occur if there is reduced blood flow to the spinal cord. Many people are not always aware that they have SCI injuries.
There are many misconceptions about SCI. For example, the spinal cord below the site of the injury does not necessarily die after the injury, nor can it easily be fixed by merely re-attaching the lower part of the cord with the upper part.
Complete Spinal Cord Injury
A complete injury involves total paralysis; below the site of the injury, there is no functioning, no movement (or, at least, no willful movement), and no feeling. For example, an injury in the neck area can result in the victim experiencing quadriplegia and requiring a ventilator to breathe; an injury further down the spine may allow the use of the arms, but the legs and bladder may not function or have any feeling.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
A patient with an incomplete spinal cord injury may experience limited control over affected body parts; one side of the body may function better than the other side. A victim may also be able to move a particular limb or be able to experience sensation in parts of the body, even if those parts cannot voluntarily move.
The medical care received directly after the back injury can often affect the severity of the outcome. If doctors and hospitals fail to give the most complete possible care after a spinal cord injury, our attorneys may be able to pursue a medical malpractice case. Our SCI lawyers assist clients in Stamford, Connecticut, and throughout the Northeast, holding wrongdoers accountable and securing fair and just compensation for clients who have sustained spinal cord injuries.
Injuries to the Spine: Car Accidents – Falls – Violence
Many of our clients have experienced damage to the spine and/or spinal nerves in a wide variety of traumatic episodes and circumstances that can produce an injury to the spine, including:
- Car Crashes
- Truck Accidents
- Slip and Falls
- Medical Malpractice
- Acts of Violence
A Spinal Cord Injury Can Cause Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Damage to the spinal cord is often known as a catastrophic injury because of the likelihood of long-term or permanent disability. The extent of injury depends on the location of the injury, the quality of medical care after the accident, and the severity of the damage to the spinal cord. Our Stamford, Connecticut spinal cord injury lawyers are well versed in this area of litigation and can help you determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and, if so, the extent of the compensation warranted.
A spinal cord injury can result in widely different levels of paralysis and involve multiple organ systems. The evaluation and presentation of such cases depend largely on the retention of the proper experts, including health care providers, life care planners, vocational experts, and economists. Where full or partial paralysis affects bowel and/or bladder control or the ability to breathe, it is necessary not only to consult with other medical specialists including urologists and gastroenterologists, but also to account for an anticipated lifetime of problems and expenses that can impact every aspect of a spinal cord injury victim’s life.
Additional Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries
In addition to possible loss of motor functioning and feeling, victims of SCI may undergo dysfunction in other areas that may include:
- Bowels and bladder
- Sexual function
- Blood pressure (low/unable to control)
- Body temperature (reduced ability to regulate or sweat below the level of the injury)
- Chronic or permanent pain
Victims of SCI usually require long-term medical care and incur extremely high medical bills. Some injuries involve fractures, which can pose great risks to nerves and vertebrae. Some fractures require spinal surgery to stabilize the fracture site. Other injuries involve one or more herniated or bulging disks that may also necessitate surgery, depending upon the extent of the injury and the risk of further neurological damage. In some cases, the supporting structures are damaged and leave the patient in agonizing pain. In others, the injury to the spine makes muscles form taut bands that form trigger points, and the points may refer pain to other areas of the body. Such conditions often require extensive physical therapy, deep tissue massage, and trigger point injections.
Make sure to seek medical help as soon as possible after a spinal cord injury so that proper intervention may occur. If you sought medical care after an injury and believe that adequate assistance was not given because the proper diagnosis was not made or definitive treatment was not rendered, speak with a knowledgeable Stamford, Connecticut spinal cord injury lawyer to see if you have a legal claim.
How Is the Location of the Injury Related to the Damage Caused?
The higher the location of the injury, the more damage that is usually caused to the victim’s functional abilities. Injuries to various places often result in varying losses of function in related areas of the body.
There are eight vertebrae in the neck, called cervical vertebrae, which affect the arms and legs if damaged. Injuries in this area can lead to quadriplegia, or paralysis affecting limbs.
There are 12 vertebrae in the chest, called thoracic vertebrae, which correspond with the chest and the legs, so damage to this region can lead to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body.
Finally, there are five lumbar vertebrae and five sacral vertebrae, which are in the lower back to the end of the spinal column; if the spinal cord in these regions is damaged, the hips and legs may experience reduced functioning.
Specifics of SCI
SCIs can be determined more specifically by numbering the vertebrae of different sections. These are classified with the first letter of the section (i.e. C for cervical), a hyphen, and the number of the bone (the numbers get higher, starting over at each section, as one moves farther down the body). Thus, a C-4 injury is quite high up on the neck. Injuries above this particular level can signify the need for a ventilator; the person may not be able to breathe on his or her own. This way of defining a spinal cord injury is known as ‘vertebral level.’ Visit Spinal Cord 101 for more details.
SCIs can also be defined by neurological level and by severity. Different doctors, such as surgeons, physiatrists, and neurologists, all have slightly varied ways of defining these injuries, which is why it is important to find assistance when trying to understand the complexities of SCI. At Casper & de Toledo, we can help you figure out the situation and help you find assistance with these and other issues. Contact us for a consultation.
Is SCI Common?
Currently, 450,000 United States citizens have SCI, and around 10,000 more people suffer these injuries each year. According to the Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center, 82% of these injuries are experienced by males, ages 16-30 years old. 36% of these injuries are due to motor vehicle mishaps, about 30% are caused by violence, and about 21% occur through falls.
Visit the National Spinal Cord Injury Association for information on this life-changing injury.
Certain syndromes have been named after patterns in some SCI cases, such as the “central cord syndrome,” where arms are more affected than legs, and “posterior cord syndrome,” in which people can retain motor functions but cannot feel anything in parts of their bodies.
In addition, the American Spinal Cord Injury Association has developed a system to classify injuries. You can view this table by visiting this website. You can also use their website for more information (including information about the various syndromes.)
Contact a Stamford, Connecticut Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Whether or not your injuries involve paraplegia, quadriplegia, or permanent disability, contact a Stamford, Connecticut spinal cord injury lawyer from Casper & de Toledo for assistance with a claim. Our Stamford, Connecticut personal injury attorneys are committed to helping back, neck, and spinal cord injury victims obtain just compensation.