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Spinal Cord Injuries and Personal Injury Law

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Spinal Cord Injuries and Personal Injury Law
Spinal Cord Injuries and Personal Injury Law 

 

Spinal cord injuries can cause a devastating array of physical problems, from pain to mobility problems, from incontinence to paralysis. In Canada, there are an estimated 86,000 people who are living with the effects of a spinal cord injury, and more than 1,500 new spinal cord injuries occur every year. People between the ages of 20 to 29 along with those over the age of 70 are most often affected by these types of injuries; nearly 70% are male and 30% female. Spinal cord injuries are most often caused accidentally, with unintentional falls and motor vehicle accidents listed as the two leading causes. If you or someone you know has suffered a spinal cord injury, it’s important to find excellent medical care and access to both occupational and physical therapy. Fortunately, Canada has a number of experts in these fields, and medical advances are made every day. However, it’s also important to contact a personal injury lawyer. If your injury occurred due to an accident, a personal injury law firm can advise you about your legal options.

 

Living with a Spinal Cord injury 

Many of us see people with wheelchairs going about their daily lives in our neighbourhood, or competing in the Paralympics on TV. Because so many people with spinal cord injuries cope so brilliantly, it’s common to underestimate the types of challenges many of them face. The effects of a spinal cord injury vary, according to the location of the injury. The Mayo Clinic lists possible effects of a spinal cord injury as:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs

 

After suffering a spinal cord injury, patients will need the help of a rehabilitation team to help them deal with the effects, which can seem overwhelming at first. During this time of healing and readjustment, life changes utterly for many spinal cord injury victims. First, there are the debilitating physical effects to endure, along with pain and muscle weakness. People also have to come to terms with the changes that have occurred and will occur in their lives, and sometimes with uncertainty about what may lie ahead. Many people resent the fact that they will need help during their recovery; they find the loss of independence during this early period very difficult to deal with. In addition, spinal cord patients often can no longer do the work that they used to do, so employment becomes insecure. Most times renovations have to be made to homes or apartments in order to accommodate a wheelchair or reduced mobility; sometimes it’s even necessary to make a move to a more accessible home. Relationships undergo changes, and sometimes become fraught, or irreparably damaged. There is often relearning of basic tasks that needs to be done; for example, patients may need to learn to dress and groom themselves differently, to do household tasks in a new way, or to drive a car with hand controls. Sexual functioning is usually affected, which can be difficult for both the patient and his/her partner. Spinal cord injury patients may also experience frustration with lack of bowel and/or bladder control which can make planning to attend events or participating socially difficult.

 

Finding the Right Support

 Immediately following a spinal accident, the focus for the patient will be on physical recovery and medical treatment. After that, physical and occupational therapy, as well as emotional counselling, will be in order. On average, it takes two to three years from the date of the accident for a spinal cord injury patient to regain his/her independence. During this time, a patient is under a lot of stress about how the injury will affect his/her life. Unfortunately, he or she may also experience stress about financial matters. Sometimes it’s possible to take a medical leave, but many times patients have a reduced income, or no source of income at all. He or she still has ordinary living expenses, along with many new additional expenses.

 
Nurse with the young man in wheelchair Free Photo

 

This is one of the reasons why finding an experienced personal injury lawyer soon after the accident is a very good idea. Depending on how the accident occurred, it may be possible for the victim to receive an insurance settlement or disability payments. A good personal injury law firm handles dozens of cases each year and their lawyers understand how to deal with the complex paperwork required by insurance companies and government agencies.

 

A spinal cord injury is one of the most traumatic things that anyone can experience, but people can and do make a positive adjustment to life as long as they have the right supports along the way. If you or someone you love has a spinal cord injury, put together the best possible team to support you/them physically, emotionally, and legally. 

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