St. Louis Cervical Spinal Injury Attorney
Cervical Spinal Injury
A cervical spine injury can be one of the most traumatic and life-altering injuries that can occur in a car accident. It is often devastating and leaves one with significant medical issues for the rest of one’s life. The neck, while well supported by muscles, is easily injured if it is whipped around at high speeds. For example, in a frontal or rear car collision, the body is thrown forward at a high-velocity and quickly followed by the body hitting a now stationary object – typically the steering wheel, airbag, or seatbelt restraints. This type of accident causes the neck to be quickly snapped forward and then back, injuring the spinal cord. In addition, when ejected from a moving vehicle or falling from a height, the impact of hitting the ground head first is enough to fracture the spine and injure the spinal cord.
Common causes of spinal injuries to the neck include:
- Ejection from a motor vehicle
- Motorcycle crashes
- High-velocity injuries
- Falls from a height
Symptoms and Treatment
With a serious neck injury, a condition called spinal shock can occur – during the initial time frame following injury a person may have no feeling or use of their body below the level of the neck. For most people this is temporary and over time, feeling and muscle strength return. However, in some situations, the person will remain paralyzed from the neck down for the remainder of their life.
Other symptoms possible after a neck injury include:
- Neck pain, headache
- Numbness, tingling, and weakness of the upper extremities
Treatment for a spinal injury to the neck can involve a wide range of procedures and steps to try to reverse any damage that has been done. However, a universal and immediate step in caring for someone with a neck injury is placement of a cervical collar around the neck. The goal of this device is to stabilize the neck and hopefully prevent any more damage from being done.
Another fairly rapid intervention is an emergent surgery to decompress the spinal cord if it is swollen for any reason; steroids, such as IV prednisone, may be given to try to help this process as well. If one of the vertebrae has been fractured or pushed out of alignment, surgery may be needed to fuse the vertebrae together to allow for stabilization – this is very important since the vertebral column is what houses and protects the spinal cord.
Other minor treatment and care issues include a special bed that helps keep your body weight distributed equally; this along with frequently rotating from one side to the other can help prevent bed sores. Also important for those who are temporarily, or permanently paralyzed, is placement of a catheter in the bladder and frequent diaper changes since you will not have control of your bowel movements or your bladder. These are just a few of the many possible treatment and care issues that may be addressed depending on the severity of your injury.
Prognosis and Looking Into the Future
The outlook for someone with a cervical spine injury is largely determined on the severity of their initial injury.
Someone with a fractured vertebrae and no injury to the spinal cord has a decent chance of recovery. However, they may experience problems with arthritis in the neck and decreased range of motion, or ability to move the neck fully in all directions, since they typically fuse the broken vertebrae to provide stability.
For those who had injury to the spinal cord, the extent of recovery is not always predictable. Some will have slow improvement but eventually regain all the feeling and control of their body. Others will regain some to most of the feeling and movement they had lost; they may continue to experience any combination of numbness, tingling, or weakness in any part of their body below the neck, but it is most common in the upper extremities (arms, hands, shoulders). Finally, those with the most severe and devastating injuries will never regain the feeling and function of their body back and will be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of their life. These individuals will likely face a number of medical issues for the rest of their life as they combat bed sores, infections, bladder and bowel issues, and even respiratory or heart problems.
Legal Strength Working for You
Attentive St. Louis spinal injury attorneys at Page Law are dedicated to providing every client with personal attention. In our years of working to protect injured victims, we have the legal skills and knowledge necessary to help clients obtain compensation from negligent parties. For more information about how we can assist with your case, please call (314) 322-8515 for a free case evaluation.