You have your whole life in front of you, and then you get into an accident. Later, you learn that your spinal cord is damaged and that you aren’t likely to regain all function again. Even if you are expected to regain some function, your life will inevitably change in some ways.
Now you must decide where to go from here. Knowing how your life is likely going to change can help you make that decision.
The level of injury matters
Injuries higher on the spinal cord are usually associated with worse effects. The spine includes five sections – the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal areas. An injury to the cervical spine could affect everything from the neck down, but a lumbar injury would only affect the lower body. Higher-level injuries occurring in the cervical spine are associated with complete paralysis. This could mean dependence upon a ventilator to breathe and having no control over your limbs.
The type of injury can affect recovery
Incomplete injuries typically aren’t as serious as complete injuries. An incomplete spinal cord injury is one that doesn’t take away all function below the level of the injury. A complete spinal cord injury is one that takes away all function and sensation below the injury. You are more likely to recover more function if you suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury than if you suffered a complete injury.
Spinal cord injuries can incur lifelong expenses
Spinal cord injuries are expensive, especially for young adults. A person who is 25 years old when the spinal cord injury happens can expect to incur an estimated $1,578,274 in lifetime costs if there is incomplete motor function at any level of the spine. This is the lowest estimate. A person of the same age with paraplegia has an estimated lifetime cost of $2,310,104. Low tetraplegia carries an estimated lifelong cost of $3,451,781, and high tetraplegia has an estimated lifelong cost of $4,724,181.
Seeking compensation might be possible
Spinal cord injuries occur for several reasons. Motor vehicle accidents are only one possible cause. Victims of spinal cord accidents caused by negligent parties might seek compensation from the at-fault parties. This involves showing that the negligence led to the accidents, the accident led to the injuries and the injuries are eligible for compensable damages.