Vehicle crashes are responsible for almost half of all spinal cord injuries. This kind of serious damage can happen in a split second — but then what?
Next, there is typically a battery of medical tests. Various forms of treatment will follow depending on the type of spinal cord injury the tests confirm.
Identifying the 2 kinds
The victim of a car crash could experience one of two kinds of SCI: complete or incomplete. In the complete injury, the victim will lose the ability to feel and move below the site of the injury. Someone with incomplete SCI will still have some level of functioning in that area. Symptoms vary from loss of mobility and the sensations of heat, cold or touch, to digestive issues, loss of bladder control and trouble breathing.
Making a diagnosis
After conducting a physical exam, the doctor may order diagnostic tests:
- An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan, to look for spine abnormalities
- A CT scan to show the location of the injury
- Somatosensory evoked potential test to determine whether nerve signals can pass through the spinal cord
- X-rays to uncover any fractures in the bones of the spine
There is no way to reverse the damage in a spinal cord injury, and recovery to any extent may require a long hospital stay accompanied by ongoing rehabilitation. Medical professionals work toward helping patients resume an active life, so treatment is different for everyone because each case is unique. One treatment option is the electrical stimulation of nerves, which helps patients with breathing and coughing issues as well as their problems with arm and leg movements.
The treatment for spinal cord injuries can be extremely expensive. Insurance compensation may cover some of this cost. Medical reports and ongoing information from the physician and other medical personnel can help in the negotiation for a full and fair settlement after an accident.