More than a quarter of a million people in the U.S. live with spinal cord injuries, and approximately 11,000 new cases are reported each year. Major causes of spinal cord injury include violence and falls, but automobile accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, meaning that even an average family is at risk. Spinal cord injuries range from whiplash or a bulging disc to severe paralysis that may require full-time use of a ventilator. Sadly, the most common victim of spinal cord injury are young adults, especially men between the ages of 16 and 30.
Spinal cord injuries are extremely complex and affect all areas of a patient’s life. In addition to impaired mobility, patients also suffer from a variety of related medical issues such as respiratory, skin, bladder, bowel, and sexual problems. The psychological impact of spinal cord injuries presents patients with the difficult task of grieving for their lost mobility, adjusting a new dependency on others, and learning to create different goals for their lives. Caregivers, especially family members, must also learn to adjust to the patient’s injury and changes in relationship dynamics.
Quality post-accident medical attention and rehabilitation can be a major factor in the extent of a patient’s recovery and adjustment to life with a spinal cord injury. But treatment and rehabilitation is a long process. A patient typically spends an average of 18 days in a hospital receiving acute care following an accident and an additional 39 days on average at a rehabilitation center to adress the early stages of the medical, psychological, social, and vocational aspects of spinal cord injuries.
Treatment at hospitals and rehabilitation centers can be expensive, and when combined with costs of purchasing equipment (such as a motorized wheelchair), modifying housing and transportation for accessibility, continuing medical visits, and personal assistance services, the result is a large financial burden for spinal cord injury patients. This burden is made worse by the lost earnings that spinal cord injury patients experience during treatment and beyond. A lawsuit against those who may have contributed to the injury may be necessary for patients to manage these expenses.
This Help Center is designed to help you learn more about the anatomy of a spinal cord injury, ways to prevent injuries, effects on patients and caregivers, and related legal issues. To help you stay safe and learn more about spinal cord injuries, this Help Center offers the following five articles:
In each of these articles you will find expert analysis, key strategies, and bottom line advice to help you navigate through the challenging and often confusing process from the scene of the accident all the way to a successful resolution of all the issues that come from even a simple spinal cord injury. By reading and putting this information into practice you will be well on your way to keeping your family safe while making the best possible decisions in situations when an accident or injury has already occurred.