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The life-altering effects of a spinal cord injury

Among the many types of injuries suffered by motorists who are involved in accidents on Rhode Island roadways, spinal cord injuries are particularly serious. When the spinal cord is damaged due to trauma, its ability to carry impulses between the brain and various parts of the body is interrupted, and loss of function occurs. Approximately 30 new spinal cord injuries are reported daily. Although researchers have made promising advances in the lab, a cure has not yet been discovered.

The type and level of injury suffered can indicate how the body will be affected. Loss of sensation and voluntary movement on both sides of the body below the level of injury occurs in what is known as a complete spinal cord injury. In comparison, incomplete injuries may leave the injured person with the ability to move one limb more than another or to feel some degree of sensation in immobile limbs. In addition, the swelling of the spinal cord that happens in the immediate aftermath of a spinal cord injury may adversely affect every bodily system, although medical advances in this area have led to a reduction in the severity of this type of secondary damage.

In the weeks following an accident, some patients may regain a degree of functioning as the swelling begins to subside. In isolated cases, individuals have recovered some function years after it was lost. However, reports suggest that very few people who survive a spinal cord injury completely recover.

In addition to physical challenges, a Rhode Island resident who suffers a spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident may find their financial situation severely impacted. A personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate a fair settlement with insurers on a client's behalf for losses such as loss of wages, pain and suffering and medical expenses.

Source: Shepherd Center, "Learn About Spinal Cord Injuries," accessed on March 5, 2015

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