Living with a spinal cord injury in Illinois: What to know

Sudden, traumatic accidents may cause spinal cord injuries; the effects of which may be significant and lasting.

Spinal cord injuries are a common cause of permanent disability in people throughout Illinois and elsewhere. In fact, estimates based on a study conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation suggest more than 1.2 million adults and children across the U.S. suffer from spinal cord injury-related paralysis. Often resulting from incidents such as sports injuries, slip and fall accidents, auto collisions and violence, damage to the spinal cord unfortunately cannot be reversed. Therefore, those who suffer such injuries may be dealing with the effects for the rest of their lives.

Common spinal cord injury symptoms

Spinal cord injuries, and thus the associated symptoms, may vary in type and severity. Some people retain partial motor and sensory function below the affected area, while others may lose all feeling and movement control. In addition to suffering full or partial paralysis, those with spinal cord injuries may experience a range of other symptoms, including the following:

· Pain, pressure or a stinging sensation

· Loss of bladder or bowel control

· Spasms or exaggerated reflexes

· Impaired breathing

As a result of spinal cord injuries, people may also experience changes in their sexual sensitivity and function, as well as in their fertility.

Potential spinal cord injury complications

Spinal cord injuries may dramatically affect how people's bodies function. The effects of these injuries can be difficult enough to live with, but they may also lead to a number of potentially serious secondary conditions. For example, due to a loss of bladder or bowel control, people may be at a greater risk for urinary tract infections, kidney or bladder stones, or kidney infections. Further, they may at risk for other health issues such as blood clots, orthostatic hypotension, autonomic hyperreflexia, pressure sores, and pneumonia and other lung problems.

Treating spinal cord injuries

Acute treatment of spinal cord injuries is typically aimed at limiting their effects and preventing further injury. The medical interventions that may be employed include the use of immobilization, the administration of medications or surgery. After people's conditions have stabilized, the focus of their care turns to the prevention of secondary health issues, as well as on rebuilding and increasing their quality of life. Rehabilitation team members, including occupational and physical therapists, may work with those who have suffered spinal cord injuries to maintain and strengthen their remaining muscle function and motor skills. Additionally, they may teach them adaptive techniques that will allow them to perform their day-to-day tasks and return to their hobbies and other activities.

Working with an attorney

Whether due to a dangerous property condition, a motor vehicle accident or another such incident, people in Illinois may require lifelong care after suffering spinal cord injuries. This may result in lost income while they are off work recovering, in addition to extensive medical bills. When such injuries are caused by the negligence or recklessness of another, however, those harmed may be entitled to financial compensation. Thus, people who have suffered spinal cord injuries as a result of accidents may benefit from consulting with a legal representative to discuss their rights and options.