Pittsburgh Spinal Cord Injuries Lawyer
The spinal cord is composed of soft tissue protected by bone or vertebrae that encircle it. Groups of nerve cells, called tracts, extend from the spinal cord and control muscle movement in various parts of the body. When the spinal cord is damaged, either by trauma or a non-traumatic event, those portions of the body below the site of the injury are affected. Contact an experienced Pittsburgh, PA spinal cord injury attorney for an initial legal consultation if you or a loved one have suffered a spine injury as a result of the negligent actions of another individual or party.
There are two basic types of tracts:
- Motor tracts: these carry messages that begin in the brain, travel through the spinal cord and control muscles.
- Sensory tracts: these tracts carry messages that carry information about sensations related to heat, cold, pressure, pain and the position of your limbs from the body to the brain.
Damage to the spinal cord at the level of the chest or lower back can affect your trunk, legs, bowel and bladder control and sexual function. Injury occurring at the level of the neck can affect muscles that control the arms or breathing.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes are the primary cause of spinal cord injuries. Between 2005 and February 2012, the following were true causes of spinal cord injuries in the U.S.:
- Vehicles: 39.2 percent
- Falls: 28.3 percent
- Violence (mainly gunshot wounds): 14.6 percent
- Sports: 8.2 percent
- Other: 9.7 percent
Other causes of spinal cord injuries include cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and inflammation of the spinal cord. Drinking alcohol is involved in about one-quarter of spinal cord injuries.
Serious Complications of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are serious injuries that will likely affect a person for the rest of his or her life. There are serious complications associated with spinal cord injuries, including:
- Paralysis: The site of the spinal cord injury determines what part of the body might be paralyzed. The higher (closer to the head) the injury, the more paralysis. If the damage occurs at the level of the neck, it may result in paralysis of the arms, legs, chest, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. The lungs may also be affected and the patient may need to depend upon a ventilator to breath. Damage to the lower part of the spinal cord may cause paralysis of the legs.
- Bladder control: Less bladder control increases the risks of urinary tract infections and kidney or bladder stones.
- Bowel control: While the stomach and intestines may not be affected, bowel movement control often is.
- Loss of skin sensation: Below the level of the spinal cord damage, some or all of skin sensation may be lost. Someone may not notice prolonged exposure to pressure, heat or cold. When the skin sensation ceases, pressure sores can become a problem. Changing position, typically with someone else’s assistance, can help prevent pressure sores.
- Circulatory control: Loss of spinal nerve function can result in orthostatic hypotension (blood pressure decreases when you rise); autonomic hyperreflexia (potentially life-threatening increase in blood pressure); swelling of the extremities; increased risk of developing blood clots.
- Respiratory control: If a spinal injury occurs at the level of the trunk or higher, breathing and coughing may be difficult. Muscles in the diaphragm, the chest wall, and the abdomen may be affected by this kind of injury. This also could make pneumonia and other lung problems more common.
- Muscle tone: The two kinds of problems that may arise include muscle spasticity (when muscles are too tight or motion becomes uncontrollable) and muscle flaccidity (when muscles become soft or limp)
- Sexual wellbeing: Patients may have changes in sexuality, fertility and sexual function. For men, changes in erection and ejaculation may occur. For women, there may be changes in lubrication.
- Pain: Muscle and joint pain from overuse can occur as well as neuropathic or central pain, particularly in persons who have an incomplete injury.
- Depression: Living with such devastating changes may cause depression in some patients.
Did You Suffer a Spinal Cord Injury?
If are suffering from complications of a spinal cord injury and it was caused by the actions or negligence of another party, you may be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit. To find out if you qualify to seek compensation for your injuries contact Chaffin Luhana today. We represent individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries and other catastrophic injuries as a result of negligence throughout the nation, including in the Ohio Valley in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.