A spinal cord injury, or SCI, can result from many different kinds of incidents: a fall, a shooting or a mishap on the athletic field.

However, you may not know that vehicle accidents account for almost half of all such injuries.

Understanding SCI

The group of nerves that make up the spinal cord carry impulses from the brain to other parts of the body. Damage to the spinal cord often results from a sudden blow to the spine itself—perhaps the impact from a vehicle collision—that displaces or fractures vertebrae. Because the spinal cord cannot repair the damage it sustains, doctors must help patients reacquire as much of their pre-injury lifestyle as possible.

Looking at symptoms

There are two kinds of SCI. In the complete form, the injured person loses all feeling below the site of the injury. With the incomplete form, the individual still retains a certain level of functioning below the injury site. It may be the difference between quadriplegia paralysis or paraplegia-paralysis. However, while symptoms may be as obvious as complete loss of mobility, they may be as seemingly ordinary as digestive problems, depending on the location and severity of the injury.

Anticipating results

Because spinal cord injuries are not always immediately recognizable after a vehicle crash, a doctor will order a series of tests to arrive at the proper diagnosis. Many tests involve X-rays, such as a CT scan or myelogram. Recovery could require an extended hospital stay and a long rehabilitation program. At the present time, reversing an injury to the spinal cord is not possible. However, doctors prescribe the electrical stimulation of nerves, prosthetic devices and medication to help restore certain functionality, such as the movement in arms or legs. Although medical care for SCI can be very expensive, victims of vehicle crashes have the right to expect their insurance claims to generate financial compensation to cover current and future medical expenses and more.