Spinal cord injuries are amongst the most serious injuries a person can sustain. They have a devastating, life-changing consequences not only for the victim, but also for their friends and family. Motor vehicle accidents, including cars and motorcycles, are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for as many as 35 percent of new cases each year in Kansas City and nationwide. So why are vehicle accidents so dangerous for the spine and how can you recognize an injury if you’ve been in an accident?
Car Accidents and the Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is an integral part of your central nervous system, the communication highway between the brain and the rest of your body. This is why spinal cord injuries are so serious. They can occur when damage is sustained on any of the vertebrae, ligaments, or disks located on the spinal column or on the spinal cord itself.
During car accidents it is very likely that the spinal cord will take a sudden, traumatic blow, leading to several spinal injuries, including fractures, crushing, dislocations, or compressions of the vertebrae. In addition, further damage may be sustained in the days or weeks following the initial blow due to swelling, bleeding, inflammation, and fluid accumulation in and around the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Damage
Because of the serious nature of spinal cord injuries, it is very important to understand how to spot them on yourself or your loved ones in the aftermath of a car accident. Spinal injury levels may range from relatively minor whiplash to paralysis and depends on where along the spinal column damage took place. You should be checked out for spinal injuries if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Any loss of movement or sensation;
- Weakness, incoordination, or paralysis ;
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in extremities, including hands, fingers, feet, and toes;
- Trouble walking or balancing;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Severe pain or pressure to the back, head, or neck; or
- Lack of bladder/bowel control.
After being in an accident where trauma may have occurred, it is always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor. In fact, in accidents where the head or neck were affected, it is better to assume trauma until the victim has been given a proper medical evaluation as many spinal injuries aren’t always immediately obvious.
Treatment and Getting Help
After an accident, the time between when the injury was sustained and initial treatment is often critical. Getting medical attention as soon as possible will help determine the extent of complications and recovery time. If you suspect someone has a spinal injury after a car accident you should do the following if possible:
- Do not move the person as it may result worsen injuries;
- Call 911 or local emergency medical assistance;
- Hold the person’s head and neck still until medical assistance arrives; and
- Provide any basic first aid necessary, such as stopping bleeding .
Unfortunately, there is no reversing spinal damage, and treatment is largely focused on minimizing the effects. If you or anyone you know has sustained a spinal injury due to a car accident in Kansas City, you may be entitled to compensation, including medical expenses, loss of work, and pain and suffering. Call the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm to receive a free consultation regarding your case. Our car accident attorneys have extensive experience in Kansas City, Missouri handling all types of car accident injuries, including spinal cord injuries.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.