Coronavirus Update: To New & Existing Clients Learn More ›

Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
BBB Accredited Business

Spinal Cord Injury FAQs

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents people with spinal cord injuries suffered in accidents such as motor vehicle collisions, work-related accidents and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has collected a series of spinal cord injury accident FAQs related to the medical and legal aspects of an accident involving traumatic spinal column injuries. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.

Statistically, up to 15,000 reported incidents of severe spinal cord injuries occur every year in the United States. More than two-thirds of these injured victims are left permanently paralyzed, and many never survive the event. Most cases involving spinal cord injury occur in healthy individuals, the young, and men between 15 and 35 years of age that are injured in accidents. Below are the most common frequently asked questions involving a spinal cord injury including how it occurs, where it occurs, if the injury is fatal and what to do financially to survive the devastating consequences of the spinal cord injury.

The spinal cord injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 represent injured individuals who face a lifetime of partial or permanent disability. Our legal team ensures that all victims of spinal cord injuries have access to the best medical care and compensation funding to pay for ongoing medical expenses and physical/mental/emotional treatment.

Our law firm compiled a comprehensive list of the most frequent spinal cord injury frequently asked questions and posted the answers below. Our team of attorneys represents surviving family members who lost a loved one through a spinal cord injury.

What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) occur when there is acute traumatic damage to the spinal column, nerve roots or spinal cord, including the cauda equina. The damage causes permanent or temporary loss of motor function, sensory function and autonomic function of bodily systems. Doctors and researchers categorize spinal cord injuries as complete or incomplete.

A complete spinal injury involves a completely severed spinal cord that eliminates nerve function below the injury site. Typically, the individual suffers a total loss of function but may regain some abilities through medical treatment and therapy.

An incomplete spinal injury involves a partially damaged or severed spinal column. More than six out of every ten of all SCIs are identified as partial in one of three categories that include:

  • Anterior Cord Syndrome – This syndrome involves an impact to the front of the injured victim's spinal cord that affects sensory pathways and motor function that makes muscle movement increasingly challenging due to lessening sensitivity.
  • Central Cord Syndrome – When force impacts the center of the spinal cord, serious nerve damage injury can affect the transmission of signals from the brain through the spinal cord. This type of injury results in a loss of fine motor functions, paralysis of the arm, partial impairment, loss of sexual function and the loss of bowel and bladder control.
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome (BSS) – Patients with BSS have loss of movement capacity on one side of the body at some level that is caused by an impactful injury to one side of the spinal cord.

When can a Spinal Cord Injury Occur?

Spinal trauma from an impact occurs anywhere on the spinal cord or in spinal nerves that can result in an SCI. Doctors and researchers identify the areas where spinal cord injuries occur in the three categories that include:

  • Cervical Spinal Cord – This area of the spinal cord involves eight vertebrae (C1-C8) that when injured can impact motor function, organ function and sensory nerves below the top of the rib cage, that can result in quadriplegia.
  • Thoracic Spinal Cord – This area of the spinal cord involves 12 vertebrae (T1-T12) that when injured can impact the body's main trunk and coordinating movement in the victim's lower body.
  • Lumbar Spinal Cord – This area of the spinal cord involves five vertebrae (L 1-L 5) that when injured impacts the lower body sensations including sexual function and bladder and bowel control.

In addition to these three locations on the spinal column, damage can also occur to the sacral spine involving the nerves and vertebrae between the tailbone (coccyx) and lumbar spine. When the bone is damaged, the individual will experience minimal or no sensation to the body's lower regions. However, this area of the spine does not have spinal cord tissue, so any damage or injury does not directly affect the spinal cord.

What is Paraplegia?

Doctors and medical researchers categorize paraplegia as the individual's inability to move the body's lower parts voluntarily. The spinal cord injury can affect movement to the legs, feet, toes and, in some cases, the abdomen.

What is Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia)?

Medical researchers and doctors identify quadriplegia as an injury that causes the inability to voluntarily move the body's lower and upper parts that can include the chest, arms, hands, fingers, toes, legs, and feet. In some cases, quadriplegia (tetraplegia) affects the patient's shoulders, neck, and head.

What is Spinal Shock?

Individuals experience spinal shock are often faced with a temporary minimal to total loss of reflexes. A severe form of this type of SCI can lead to autonomic nervous system shock that involves hyperreflexia or areflexia. Spinal shock can develop after experiencing a life-threatening injury or severe trauma to the spinal cord. Because this condition is typically short-lived, your doctor can usually easily predict its stages to recovery that include:

  • One to Two Days to Recovery – In the first two days after the surgery, the nerves are less responsive to sensory input, including a loss of reflex.
  • One to Three Days to Recovery– In the first three days after the initial injury, the nerves begin to restore their reflexes.
  • First Month to Recovery – Within the first four weeks after the injury, the nervous system will begin restoring strong reflexes as a response to a nerve synapse growth.
  • First Year to Recovery – Within the first year after the injury hyperreflexia continues, although the victim may experience spasticity caused by changing neuron and cell bodies that typically take much longer to restore.

Is a Cervical C1-C2 Injury Fatal?

Perhaps the most devastating spinal cord injury is one that occurs between the C1 and C2 vertebrae that either kills the individual or leaves them fully paralyzed. Any severe damage in this area inflicts neurological damage and deprives the brain of much-needed oxygen and blood.

Recovery of a C1-C2 fracture depends on numerous factors including other damage or injury the individual suffered. Survival requires immediate treatment of the critical injury including stabilizing the head to prevent further damage while encouraging healing.

Can a C4 or C3 Spinal Cord Injury be Cured?

A severe injury to the cervical spine at C3 or C4 vertebra location causes significant functional loss of the body's central nervous system. The survival of this type of injury will usually result in an injured victim with limited mobility in the neck's extension and flexion that moves the head backward and the chin toward the chest. These injured patients tend to experience challenging difficulties in breathing and often require the use of a ventilator. Other associated problems include loss of bowel and bladder function and quadriplegia.

Scientists and medical researchers have yet to find a cure or effective treatment that reverses spinal cord damage between C3 and C4. That said, some individuals have found restorative help through physical therapy.

Can Spinal Cord Injuries Affect the Respiratory System?

The most severe forms of SCI (spinal cord injury) affect the cervical spine that causes partial paralysis or quadriplegia. In severe cases, the spinal cord injury survivor loses their mobility that could increase the potential risk of suffering other issues including a loss of full respiratory function. The injured individual may lose their capacity to breathe, swallow or cough and often can only survive on a ventilator. A spinal cord injury that affects the lungs increases the development of respiratory infection, which is currently the leading cause of death of spinal cord injury patients.

Can a Spinal Cord Injury Affect Other Parts of the Body?

An SCI can significantly alter or other body functions that will dramatically change over time. Some of these changes include:

  • Obesity
  • Bone loss
  • Pain
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Bowel/bladder disorders
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Anxiety associated with adjusting to the illness
  • Depression

It is only in recent decades that there has been a notable change in the level of care provided to spinal cord injury patients who no live much longer life than in the past. These changes are the result of vast improvements in the level of care and a more comprehensive understanding of the issues associated with SCI.

Can Spinal Cord Injury Survivors Live a Fulfilling Life?

Absolutely. While the spinal cord injury will dramatically change the victim's life and the lives of their family and friends, using the services provided by a trained medical team can help the survivor enjoy many recreational activities, daily work, and home life. With realistic goals and access to the best medical care, medicine, and equipment along with a helpful support group, the survivor can enjoy life, have children, and participate in normal activities.

How can I Increase my Chance of Survival?

Spinal cord injuries that result in partial or complete paralysis create immediate life-changing consequences on both physical and financial levels. To ensure your survival, you will need access to extensive, ongoing medical treatments and therapies. Your medical and physical therapy teams will need to work together to assist you in learning your daily skills and adapt them to your changing abilities. Most SCI patients can continue to drive their motor vehicle, work in their same environment and have an active home life with certain modifications.

You will need to make certain adjustments to avoid specific problems associated with bowel and bladder complications, chronic pain, your inability to regulate your blood pressure and deal with challenging respiratory difficulties. With a specialized medical care team, you can increase your lifespan and improve the quality of your daily life.

How do I Obtain Adequate Funds for my Survival?

Many spinal injuries are the result of motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle crashes, defective products, trucking accidents, medical malpractice, bicycle crashes and industrial accidents. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757), our attorneys remain committed to assisting you in making your life easier and significantly more fulfilling. Our team of legal experts recognizes that your SCI has dramatically altered your way of life and prosecute spinal cord injury cases on behalf of our clients.

Through our representation, our law firm will coordinate every available local resource that can assist you in your daily needs that include long-term medical problems, housing, and transportation. Our attorneys have access to every needed resource available and consult with leading rehabilitation neurosurgeons, doctors, psychologists and medical experts to ensure you receive the best spinal cord injury treatment.

Collectively, our legal team will build a claim for compensation by developing your case to present to a judge or jury. Our comprehensive understanding of state tort law and success in litigation will ensure you receive adequate financial compensation to recover your past medical expenses, ongoing costs and payment for future services that last as long as the symptoms and limitations of your severe injury.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation. Let our team put our experience and access to resources to work for you in building a better and more fulfilling life. We postpone payment of all fees for our legal services until after we have successfully resolved your case through a negotiated out-of-court settlement or in a jury trial award.

250M + Recovered for Our Clients
No Fee Guarantee We Never Charge a Fee Unless We Win
Available 24/7 Available 24-Hours per Day When You Need Us
Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa