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How do spinal cord injuries impact long-term care?

Communicating with one's doctor openly and regularly is important for many Delaware residents. This is especially true for accident victims who may have severe afflictions such as spinal cord injuries. In this situation, obtaining a thorough prognosis can offer some peace of mind during a difficult situation.

For a person who has suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of someone else's negligence, it can be frightening to learn about one's prognosis. Spinal cord injuries are often extremely serious, and may cause paralysis among other life-altering changes in a person's body. These types of injuries are generally classified based on where the injury to the spinal cord has occurred. Injuries that occur higher up on the spinal cord are often more serious and damaging to the body than those that occur at lower levels, although all injuries to the spine have the potential for severity.

The human spine consists of over 30 vertebrae, with seven in the cervical region, 12 in the thoracic region and five in the lumbar region or lower back. Spinal cord injuries can be labeled with a letter and number corresponding to vertebrae; for instance, an injury may occur at C3 or at T6. An accident victim's outlook for recovery often depends on where on the spine they were harmed. An injury at L1 through L5 may involve the potential for eventually walking with assisting devices or for short distances. An injury at C3, however, may involve death or total dependency on long-term care for an indefinite period of time.

Spinal cord injuries that occur on the lower end of the cervical spine may entail quadriplegia with varying degrees of arm movement. This translates into victims possibly being able to use a wheelchair on their own or transferring themselves from one spot to another. Some may even be able to drive if certain adaptations are made. A spinal injury that occurs in the T6 through T12 region might mean that the person can sit with good balance and maneuver a wheelchair with increased ability.

Spinal cord injuries are highly complex, and any predictions for rehabilitation can only be made by a qualified physician. Long-term medical care can be enormously costly. Accident victims may want to speak with an attorney if their injury was caused by the carelessness of another person, such as a drunk driver or negligent property owner.

Source: John Hopkins University Medicine, "Rehabilitation Potential With SCI," accessed June 6, 2016

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