Together, the spinal cord and brain compose the human central nervous system, or CNS. While the brain may act like the body’s control center, without a healthy spinal cord to relay nerve signals back and forth from body to brain and vice versa, many major components of physical function can be dramatically impacted or completely destroyed. The spinal cord can become bruised, pinched, swollen, partially severed, or completely severed. At the extreme end of the spinal cord injury (SCI) spectrum, a severed spinal cord often results in partial or complete paralysis.
If You Are Living with SCI, Reiff & Bily Can Help
Coping with the negative ramifications of a spinal cord injury is difficult enough. But when SCI which could have otherwise been avoided was caused by the recklessness, negligence, or medical malpractice of a third party, the emotional impact is even worse. If you believe that you or your loved one’s SCI was the fault of another individual, you do not have to accept the financial consequences of the responsible party’s actions. You deserve to receive fair compensation for your emotional suffering, your physical pain, and your costly medical expenses.
At the law offices of Reiff & Bily, we have been providing our services as aggressive personal injury attorneys for over 34 years. If you or someone you love is living with SCI, a Lancaster County spinal cord injury lawyer from our firm can help you file a claim for a personal injury lawsuit or premises liability lawsuit. Since 1979, we have recovered more than $200 million for men, women, and young people suffering from a wide range of spinal cord injuries in Lancaster County. Our attorneys have won our clients awards of more than $1 million.
Spinal Cord Functions
The spinal cord is a long, thick bundle of nerve fibers which runs along the length of the spinal column, which consists of 31 roughly cylindrical bones known as vertebrae. The spinal cord extends downward from the base of the brain, starting around the occipital bone (a bowl-shaped bone at the rear base of the skull) and ending between the first and second lumbar vertebrae (in the lower back). While everyone’s spinal cord is slightly different in size and length, the average spinal cord is about 18 inches long in men, and 17 inches long in women. Spinal cord thickness ranges from half an inch down to a quarter of an inch.
Along with the brain, the spinal cord comprises the human CNS. The CNS works together the PNS or peripheral nervous system (i.e. the nerves in your organs and limbs) to carry signals around the body. When the spinal cord is damaged, the result is that the brain can partially or completely lose its ability to communicate with the rest of the anatomy. Many bodily functions can be dramatically impacted by SCI. For example, if your spinal cord is injured, you may experience:
- Changes to Sexual Function
- Chronic Pain
- Difficulty Breathing
- High Blood Pressure
- Inability to Regulate Temperature
- Loss of Bladder Control
- Loss of Bowel Control
- Loss of Sensation (pressure, temperature, pain, etc.)
- Low Blood Pressure
- Low Heart Rate
- Muscle Spasms
- Quadriplegia (also called Tetraplegia)
- Skin Ulcers
- Slowed Reflexes
- Thrombosis (blood clot)
Because the physical effects of SCI are often catastrophic or even life-changing, many people living with SCI in Lancaster County also experience emotional changes. People who have experienced a spinal cord injury may live with:
Causes of SCI and Spinal Cord Injury Liability
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the leading causes of SCI in the United States are:
- Automobile Accidents (46% of SCI)
- Fall Accidents (22% of SCI)
- Violence (16% of SCI)
- Sports Injuries (12% of SCI)
In other words, approximately half of all spinal cord injuries are the result of car accidents, one fifth are the result of accidents involving a fall, just under one fifth are the result of violence, and one-tenth are the result of athletic activities. Actor Christopher Reeve famously suffered a severe spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia after he fell from a horse in 1995. Other common ways people incur SCI include unknowingly diving into shallow water, being the victims of assault, or being injured by an unsafe condition at their workplace.
In many cases, spinal cord injury is caused by the actions or inaction of another party. For example, the owner of a pool property or swimming area may fail to properly designate or maintain the depth of the water, making SCI a matter of premises liability. In the common case of SCI being caused by a car accident, the other driver may have been drinking, driving recklessly, driving without a license, or may have been distracted by their cell phone when they should have been focused on the road. In other cases, SCI is the direct result of medical malpractice, such as a botched or otherwise inappropriate back or neck surgery.
If you or a loved one is suffering as a result of SCI, you may be able to seek financial restitution as a form of compensation for all you have endured. For a free case evaluation with a Lancaster County spinal cord injury attorney, call the law offices of Reiff & Bily at (215) 274-0072, or contact us online.