Researchers have made progress in treating spinal cord injuries (SCI) after they regrew nerve cells across the site of injury in rats. Using chemicals and enzymes that break scars, which often accumulate on the damaged part of the spinal cord, they created a more hospitable environment and were able to restore bladder function. While there is still much to be done before this process can be used in humans, it is a promising sign for restoring bodily functions after a spinal cord injury.
About 200,000 people in the United States live with SCI, and 12,000 to 20,000 new cases are reported each year. Costs for emergency treatment and long-term care accumulate quickly, adding a financial burden to the emotional distress of patients and their family members. Annual expenses for SCI can range from $15,000 to 30,000, and lifetime costs can be anywhere from $500,000 to more than $3 million.
Motor vehicles and SCI
SCI can result from traumatic events, genetic defects and birth defects. Auto accidents contribute the most to SCI injuries, causing about 46 percent of new SCI injuries each year. Using a seatbelt can reduce the odds of SCI by 60 percent, and in conjunction with an airbag, it can reduce the odds by 80 percent.
Types of SCI
SCI initiated by traumatic events, such as a car crash or fall, is caused by a blunt force to the outside of the body resulting in a bruise (contusion) or an object entering the body resulting and tearing a nerve or fracturing vertebrae. Complete SCI injuries result in no motor function or sensory ability below the site of injury. Incomplete SCI injuries result in partial motor function and/or sensory ability loss.
Symptoms of SCI
Symptoms vary for each person depending on which part of the spinal cord was impacted. Usually, the higher the impact, the more severe the injury. Symptoms can range from minor nerve and muscle damage to complete paralysis that leaves the patient dependent upon a ventilator to breathe and eat. Symptoms SCI patients may experience include:
- Muscle weakness or spasms
- Loss of feeling
- Breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and digestive complications
- Sexual dysfunction
- Bowel and bladder complications
If you or a family member suffered SCI because of someone’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer in Bradenton can explain how you can get justice.