When a major car accident causes a spinal cord injury, proper medical treatment is essential. Treatment following a spinal cord injury has several goals, primary of which are keeping the highest level of function possible, preventing complications, and maximizing the injured person’s quality of life.
Treatment immediately after the car accident
In the acute phase immediately after a major car accident, doctors will decide the best treatment for the spinal cord injury. Treatment in the short-term may include:
- Medicine to help reduce swelling and inflammation, which in turn can help reduce related damage to nerve cells in the spinal cord;
- Surgery to stabilize the spine, fuse broken spinal bones, or remove tissue or bones that are pressing on the spinal cord; and/or
- Traction or braces to bring the spine into proper alignment and keep it stable.
Depending on the area of the spine that is injured in the car accident and the severity of the spinal cord damage, long-term outcomes following the acute phase range widely, from full recovery to permanent quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia) or paraplegia.
Treatment and rehabilitation while recovering from a car accident injury
Treatment during the recovery period following a spinal cord injury will likely involve a group of health professionals known as a rehabilitation or “rehab” team. Rehabilitation in the recovery period is geared toward promoting the regaining of functions and minimizing complications. Rehabilitation in the recovery phase may include:
- Medicine to manage pain and/or control symptoms such as muscle spasticity;
- Physical therapy to enhance coordination, strength, and mobility; and/or
- Occupational therapy to build fine motor skills or to help relearn tasks, such as eating, bathing or dressing.
- A social worker to connect the injured person with resources in the community, the help with decisions about rehabilitation, and to plan for the return home or a new living place.
Long-term treatment following a major car accident
For some – particularly those who sustain catastrophic injury as a result of a major car accident – the effects of the spinal cord injury will last a lifetime. Long-term treatment will be aimed at reducing secondary complications, improving quality of life, and promoting independence, for example:
- Counselling to address the emotional effects of the injury.
- Continued physical therapy (e.g. an exercise program) designed to retain function and improve strength.
- Services of a registered dietitian (a healthy diet will promote overall health and can reduce potential risk factors).
- Vocational therapy to get the injured person back to work with the use of assistive devices, or vocational counselling to help the injured person to find a new career that fits with their post-injury abilities.
- Recreational therapy to help get the injured person back to doing hobbies, sports and social activities they enjoyed before the accident.
If you have been injured, get legal advice from a top Vancouver personal injury lawyer
If you suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a major car vehicle accident, contact Simpson, Thomas & Associates to discuss your claim against ICBC and how we can help you to get the compensation you deserve. 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 securing funding for treatment to promote maximum recovery and rehabilitation. Contact us today at (604) 689-8888 to request a free consultation.