Are Spinal Cord Injuries Permanent?

A spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord resulting from trauma such as a major car crash, motorcycle accident, or pedestrian/vehicle collision.  The effects of spinal cord injury depend on the severity of injury and its location within the spinal cord. After a major accident that causes a spinal cord injury, a frequently asked question relates to the long-term outlook: are spinal cord injuries permanent?

Is a spinal cord injury permanent?

Damage to the spinal cord can be permanent. A spinal cord injury (also known as a “SCI”) damages the nerves responsible for communication between the brain and specific parts of the body. The interruption in communication between the brain and the body causes changes in muscle function, sensation and other bodily functions. Depending on the area of the spine that is damaged and the severity of the injury, some or all of the symptoms produced by the damage to the spinal cord may be permanent. Long-term outcomes range widely, from full recovery to permanent quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia) or paraplegia.

Can a spinal cord injury ever get better?

The type of spinal cord injury is a major factor in whether it will cause permanent changes or lead to permanent disability. Types of SCI include bruising of the spinal cord (a contusion injury), pressure or compression on the spinal cord, and a laceration or severing of the nerve fibres in the spinal column. Regardless of the type of injury, there is usually swelling of the spinal cord immediately after the accident. Within days or weeks, the swelling will begin to go down, and some function may be regained. Beyond that initial period, some spinal cord injuries may further improve within about six months of the car accident with the help of rehabilitation, leading to further regaining of functions. A very small fraction of accident victims who suffered a spinal cord injury may regain some functioning years after the injury. For others – particularly those who sustain catastrophic injury as a result of a major car accident – the damage is permanent and the effects of the spinal cord injury will last a lifetime.

Is there a cure for spinal cord injury?

If the car accident has caused a serious injury such as a laceration or severing of the spinal cord, there is no cure. That being said, research into repair of spinal cord damage is continually advancing. For example, in recent years there has been some exciting research that has focussed on decreasing the severity of damage by using drugs to reduce swelling immediately after the injury, which as discussed above, is a common cause of secondary damage.

If you suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact Simpson, Thomas & Associates at (604) 689 8888 to request a free consultation. We have considerable experience handling ICBC claims involving spinal cord injuries, including claims involving quadriplegia and paraplegia. Our highly experienced Vancouver spinal cord injury lawyers will assist you in getting the help you need and develop your claim against ICBC to get the compensation you deserve.



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