Permanent Injuries, Lifelong Problems Resulting From Auto Accidents
Each year, thousands of people sustain permanent injuries in automobile accidents, leaving them with a wide range of physical problems that can persist for the rest of their lives. One of the most common and devastating is spinal cord injury.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two main types of spinal cord injury: complete and incomplete.
In a complete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord has been permanently damaged, eliminating movement below the neck and making full recovery unlikely. The patient experiences no feeling or movement in the affected areas, and one or more limbs are permanently paralyzed. However, it is possible to regain some function with continued treatment and physical therapy.
An incomplete spinal cord injury generally allows for some movement or sensation in the body, since the spinal cord has been only partially severed. Temporary paralysis may be present. Although some function can potentially be regained, this severe auto accident injury may result in loss of mobility in one or more extremities.
Although people often focus on the degree of paralysis inflicted by spinal cord injury, other serious complications can also occur:
- Persistent neuropathic pain at the site of the injury.
- Phantom pain that radiates elsewhere.
- Muscle contractions and tingling sensations.
- Gastrointestinal problems, including loss of bowel function.
- Sexual dysfunction and loss of fertility.
- Loss of various functions of the nervous system.
- Skin problems, including bed sores due to extensive time spent in one position.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Sleep apnea.
- Psychological and emotional trauma.
- Anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Obesity due to inactivity.
A spinal cord injury often results in major lifestyle changes, including inability to return to work.
Treatment and Recovery Following a Colorado Car Accident
A person is most likely to recover from a spinal cord injury that has not inflicted any paralysis. The sooner treatments to strengthen muscles begin, the better the prognosis. The profile of the injury will undoubtedly change over time, especially in the beginning, when swelling is a major issue. So patients need to take their health very seriously and immediately report any unusual symptoms to their doctor.
The first year of recovery is the most difficult as patients adjust to a new and perhaps permanent condition. Physical and occupational therapy is essential during this time since any return of function usually occurs during the first two years after the injury. Surgery may also be necessary to remove anything that has penetrated the spinal cord or to fuse unstable vertebrae in order to limit painful movement and promote healing.
A major aspect of recovery is the patient’s mental health, which is strongly related to physical health. Patients need both emotional and physical support to adjust to their new limitations and lifestyle changes.
If you or a loved one has suffered permanent injury in a Colorado car accident, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or 800-ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.