What exactly are spinal cord injuries?
Spinal cord injuries are most often the result of a traumatic accident. Traffic accidents are the most common cause of injury, although others include sports, falls, and work-related accidents, etc.
The nature and extent of the impairment depends on the severity of the injury. A tetraplegia is an injury to the spinal cord at the cervical level. A paraplegia is an injury to the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral vertebrae. Spinal cord injuries may be total if none of the motor or sensory functions are still intact, or they may be partial if some of these functions are maintained.
Damage to the spinal cord results not only in mobility disorders, but also in sensory problems, as well as a series of dysfunctions such as intestinal, sphincter, bladder, neurovegetative, genitosexual, and respiratory disorders.
In cases involving damage above C4, there will be a loss of respiratory independence due to paralysis of the diaphragm. In such cases, breathing assistance must be provided.
Occasionally, the nervous system recovers fairly quickly, although recovery is sometimes incomplete after a few weeks or months. It takes approximately eight months to reach a more definitive conclusion regarding damage to the spinal cord and 18 months for damage to the dorsal roots and peripheral nerves.
The victim of a traumatic spinal cord injury finds their life turned upside down overnight, leading to significant psychological repercussions.
A person with a spinal cord injury resulting from an accident has the right to demand that their dignity as a human being be respected. This implies they should be able to move around in a car or wheelchair, if necessary after their vehicle has been adapted, or that they should receive the assistance of a person who can help them to carry out the simple and complex activities of daily life.
In addition, if the wheelchair makes it impossible for the person to easily move around in their own home, their living space will need to be adapted. If this is not possible, compensation should be sought for the cost of acquiring a new home.
Furthermore, the victim has the right to get out of the house, if necessary with the help of a support person, in order to enjoy leisure time and holidays from time to time like everyone else.
Domotic systems and prostheses enable people with spinal cord injuries to overcome certain difficulties. Considerable progress is being made in this area.
These measures come at a high cost. In order to finance them, it is necessary, if there is a third party whose liability may be involved, to be assisted in the compensation process by a law firm and a medical advisor who are familiar with the problems and needs of this type of injury.