May 30, 2017

Living With A Spinal Cord Injury

Living With A Spinal Cord Injury:  The Symptoms and Complications

the top view of the spinal cord cavityAn injury to the spinal cord is a life altering event.   The spinal cord is an integral communication device for virtually every function in the human body from fine motor skills (hand, arm, leg and foot movement) to walking, running and bending.    The function of our vital organs relies on the messages carried from the brain through the spinal cord to our heart, lungs and more.   When the spinal cord sustains damage, it is not just mobility that is impacted but rather the entire systemic normal functioning of your body.

The Varied Symptoms of A Spinal Cord Injury

There are a number of degrees of impairment when it comes to spinal cord injury.  Depending on the level of severity and the exact location of the injury, symptoms can range from difficulty with mobility to complete inability to walk, vocalize and even breathe independently.    Mild spinal cord injuries can present as restricted range of motion, but a severe injury can result in a complete loss of ability to engage in activities of normal independent living.

Mild Injury Symptoms

  • Loss of complete or isolated movement of extremities
  • Intense muscle spasms or repeated involuntary reflex responses
  • Pain or intense tingle sensation indicative of damage to nerve fibers
  • Breathing complications
  • Problems with bladder or bowel control

Moderate to Severe Symptoms

  • Acutely painful back, neck or head pain
  • Paralysis and loss of motor coordination.  Sensation of weakness.
  • Sudden loss of balance and presence of numbness in extremities
  • Difficulty breathing or speaking

The Activities of Normal Life With A Spinal Cord Injury

When a significant spinal cord injury occurs most activities of normal life can become quite difficult.  If the injured was accustomed to living alone a live-in caregiver will be required to assist with functions such as bathing, cooking and housekeeping items.  Some individuals with severe spinal cord injury require assistance to breathe with a respirator, which requires a caregiver to assist as well.

A severe spinal cord injury also means that eating and digestion can become complicated.   In many patients with severe impairment, they may not be able to have solid foods if the stomach is not able to contract muscles to properly digest food.   For individuals with significant mobility issues a catheter is also required to assist with elimination and they are bed ridden, which brings a host of other circulatory health concerns.  Massage is required on a daily basis as well as changing the position of rest to avoid bed sores.

Since language can be impaired by a severe spinal cord injury communicating their needs becomes difficult for patients.   When impairment is significant a guardian or trustee is required for the individual who typically becomes a live-in caregiver and frequently a member of the immediately family becomes responsible for the care of the individual, including advocacy and financial administration for their needs.

Seeking legal advice immediately after a spinal cord injury is necessary to ensure that the maximum amount of insurable benefits and services are provided for the patient.   The ongoing cost of care for a patient with moderate to severe spinal cord injury requires a settlement that provides adequate care for the duration of life.  A quality legal professional will take that long-term perspective and work to get the best possible outcome for the client

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