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Understanding spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries most commonly result from car crashes, slip and fall accidents, sporting events, and gunshot wounds. Unfortunately, even with modern advances in medicine, spinal cord injuries are very serious and sometimes completely life altering. Because the extent of a spine injury isn’t always recognizable and can get progressively worse if left untreated, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment if you suspect that you have suffered spinal cord damage. The time between when the injury occurs and when you first receive treatment is critical to your recovery.

There are two classifications for spinal cord injuries. Some are classified as “complete,” meaning that the victim loses all sensory feeling and function below the location of the spinal cord injury. Others are classified as “incomplete,” meaning that the victim still retains some feeling and movement below the injury. Generally speaking, the higher up the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more severe the effects.

Some of the symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:

  • Loss of movement and feeling
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Spasms and uncontrollable reflexes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Weakness
  • Numbing, tingling or the loss of feeling in a particular area
  • Problems with balance

Treatment for serious injuries is usually ongoing and can be very expensive. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury and you believe that the accident occurred as a result of another person’s or entity’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, contact a personal injury lawyer in San Luis Obispo, California who can help you obtain rightful compensation.

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Spinal cord injury sufferers new hope

Nearly one quarter of a million people suffer from the effects of spinal cord injuries. Auto accidents and workplace accidents account for over 50 percent of new cases. In some instances, these spinal cord injuries can cause permanent or temporary paralysis.

Treatment for a spinal cord injury can be very expensive. The average treatment costs in the first couple of years after the injury range from approximately $250,000 to $750,000 annually. The lifetime costs of a person’s treatment and rehabilitation can approach $3 million. With these injuries typically affecting people under 30, victims can face a long existence of grueling rehabilitation and a diminished quality of life.

Two recent studies provide hope. A 2013 study shows that a combination of physical therapy and stem cell treatment can repair many lost neurological functions in spinal cord injury victims. In this study, scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School conducted a clinical trial of spinal cord injury patients who had not responded previously to six months of treatments. The doctors placed the patients into two groups, one receiving only physical therapy and the other group combination treatment. The combination treatment group indicated improvements after just a month. After two more months, some patients previously unable to control their bladders could now relieve themselves without catheters. After 18 months, some patients previously unable to walk independently could walk without support.

Previously, in a 2012 study, doctors performed the first human cell transplant on a spinal cord patient. Doctors grew cells from the patients’ own extracted nerve tissues, and then placed these cells back into the patients. Researchers plan to monitor the patients for another two years to measure overall improvement.

Scientific developments in stem cell research may ultimately help many spinal cord injury victims recover many of their lost functions and/or physical sensations. While the medical community is hopeful for a cure, it recognizes that substantial work lies ahead.

If you are suffering from a spinal cord injury, speak with San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyer, Steven P. Roberts. He can help you pursue the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.