Spinal Cord Injury and Car Accidents: The Signs and Symptoms

Spinal Cord Injury Car Accident

Currently, in the UK, there are 40,000 individuals living with a spinal cord injury. A considerable amount of these injuries are the result of road traffic accidents and more specifically car accidents, which, tragically are easily preventable.

Consequently, this article aims to outline what a spinal cord injury is, what the most common causes are and what to do immediately after such a traumatic accident.


What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

Your spinal cord is a long bundle of nervous tissues that extend down and along your spine in the vertebral column. The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system (CNS) and together are responsible for key mobility functionalities.

When the spinal cord is damaged it can lead to permanent or temporary changes to how the body functions. These changes can include a loss of muscle function, sensation or autonomic (organ) function in parts of the body that are controlled by the spinal cord and are below the level that the spinal cord was damaged - this point is also referred to as the level of lesion.

Injuries occurring at any level of the spinal cord are classified as either a complete injury or as an incomplete spinal injury. Complete spinal injuries are when a total loss of sensory, muscle and mobility function occurs below the level of lesion. On the other hand, an incomplete spinal injury is when some nervous signals are able to travel past the level of lesion and so there remain some motor, sensory and mobility functions below the affected area. 

Additionally, a prognosis is dependent on the area that has been damaged: Injuries that result in damage to the spinal cord and vertebral column above the shoulders, in most cases, results in tetraplegia or quadriplegia - this is when all functions below this point are lost including all limbs. Paraplegia, being when the individual retains motor functions in the arms and hands but loses such abilities lower down, is caused if the vertebral column is damaged below the shoulders.

Unfortunately, it is only in extremely rare cases that full recovery is a possible prognosis.

Depending on the location and severity of damage to the spinal cord, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain or numbness to paralysis and incontinence


Causes Of Spinal Cord Injury: Road Traffic Accidents

A spinal cord injury usually involves a sudden and traumatic blow to the back - as is common in a road traffic accident or car accident, and one that fractures or dislocates vertebrae.

The damage begins when spinal cord tissues are either bruised or torn by disjointed vertebrae fragments. Most injuries to the spinal cord don't completely sever it.

The yearly percentage breakdown of the most common causes of spinal cord injury in the UK are as follows:

spinal chord injury car accident

Data taken from Spinal Research.

Although falls are the most common cause, road traffic accidents and more specifically car accidents have the highest incidence in cases where the individual has sustained a spinal cord injury that was not their fault. 

In these cases, it is more than likely that the person in question is owed compensation for their injury. If this is the case, the dedicated team of spinal injury individuals at Aspire Law are on hand to discuss your situation and options available to you.


Signs of Spinal Cord Injury after a Car Accident

Emergency signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury following a traumatic accident or injury, such as a car accident, often include the following:- 

  • Extreme pain or pressure felt in the back, neck or the head
  • Visually, an abnormally positioned or even twisted neck or back
  • A lack or coordination or paralysis in any part of your body
  • A difficulty experienced in walking or balancing.
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • Numbness, tingling or a loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet or toes
  • A loss of control to the bladder or bowel

If you witness a traumatic accident it is imperative to assume that the individual has sustained a spinal cord injury until proven otherwise. This is because if there is no injury to the spinal cord, moving the injured persons could indeed result in such damage being caused and permanent paralysis and other serious complications may result which can be so easily preventable. Likewise, if the injured party has damaged their spinal cord, moving them can, of course, increase the damage and increase the life changing consequences.

If you witness such an accident, such as a car accident, where you suspect such an injury has been sustained, you should call for the emergency services and keep the individual as still as possible whilst performing basic first aid - if you know how.


Sustained A Spinal Cord Injury from a Car Accident?

Choosing Your Solicitor

After being involved in a car accident or any other accident that was not your fault, it is important to understand that you are owed life changing compensation

Learning to live with and adjusting to life with a spinal cord injury does not come cheap, and this compensation, in many cases, makes the transition as smooth and as easy as it possibly can be.

We understand that all the money in the world won’t turn the clock back, however, when deciding whether to pursue a compensation claim, it is important to understand what your rights to choosing your own law firm are:-

Many Insurers are guilty of funnelling their customers into partnerships with law firms that often work in association with them and in such scenarios the insurer often gains. But it is crucial to remember that, regardless of what your insurer may say, you have no obligation whatsoever to follow these recommendations. This is not to say that all insurance firms partner law firms cannot be trusted; the majority of them do a very good job. 

However, it is often a good idea to get a second opinion from an outside third party solicitor such as Aspire Law. A second opinion will let you know whether or not you are getting the right level of service and support from your existing legal services provider.


Aspire Law: Legal Advice for Spinal Cord Injury

Choosing your solicitor can often be a daunting process and one which you feel almost overwhelmed with different firms.  

At Aspire Law, being the UK’s only law firm to deal exclusively with spinal cord injury compensation claims, we are proud to be able to say with complete confidence that every one of our specialist solicitors will have an above and beyond level of adept knowledge in dealing with car accidents and spinal cord injury cases.

Please do not hesitate to contact us, even if you do just want some spinal cord injury legal advice or a friendly and impartial second opinion, we at Aspire Law are more than happy to help.


See also...

Road traffic accidents: the most common cause of spinal cord injury

What next after a spinal injury from a car incident

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation after a car accident

Spinal cord injury advice following a car accident

Compensation following a car accident

Spinal cord injury and car accidents: establishing blame