Spinal injuries are among the most common injuries caused by automobile accidents. They can also be among the most severe. If you suspect a spinal cord injury, it's vital to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Nearly 40% of all spinal cord injuries are caused by car accidents. There are two different ways that injuries are classified: by location and by severity.
In cases of a spinal cord injury, location refers to how far down the spinal column the injury begins. Typically, issues begin at or below the area of injury. An injury at the neck level can cause issues up to and including quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia, or loss of use of the arms and legs). An injury to the lower back might cause paraplegia (loss of use of the legs).
However, there's a wide range in the severity of spinal cord injuries. These injuries can be relatively minor, like numbness or tingling, but even minor injuries can impact your quality of life and should be given medical attention.
Sometimes, you might not be aware that you received a spinal cord injury until you start experiencing symptoms. These can include:
You need to be aware that spinal cord injuries don't always manifest themselves in ways that seem related to the spine. Looking at the list above, you can see that there are several that don't, at first glance, seem related to the spine at all. But our spinal cord is so central to many of the systems in the body that damage can have surprising symptoms.
After an accident, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you're safe and not in a position where you're likely to be injured further (for example, from other traffic).
If you think you've received a spinal cord injury, it's important to remain as still as you safely can until you've been evaluated by a medical professional. Call 911 or ask someone nearby to call so you can be evaluated as soon as possible.
The medical professional on scene will decide when and how to move you. If there is any suspicion of a spinal injury, it's better to go directly to the hospital to be evaluated. Don't take any chances if you think that a spinal cord injury is even a possibility.
You may not realize you have a potential spinal cord injury until days or weeks after the accident. It's not too late for medical attention. See your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be diagnosed and begin receiving treatment quickly.
It's possible that you could receive compensation for any injury you suffered during a car accident. Depending on your car insurance coverage, you might be able to have your injuries covered. If the other driver was at least partially at fault, you might also be able to recover damages from their insurance.
Spinal cord injuries can be costly to treat, so you want to make sure that you're getting everything that you're entitled to. A lawyer can help make sure this is the case.
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