There's no question that spinal cord injuries are life-changing. As with other catastrophic injuries, spinal cord injuries can impact almost all aspects of life, and it's important to be prepared for numerous changes if you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury.
While medical bills are the first expense that often comes to mind, the financial impacts don't typically stop there, unfortunately. Depending on the cause of the injury, however, the costs may be covered by insurance or the responsible party.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Car and motorcycle accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic, which estimates that 35 percent about these injuries result from traffic accidents. Other common causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries include:
- Falls, especially for people over age 65
- Knife wounds, gunshots and other violent acts
- High-impact sports and athletic activities
The physical impacts of spinal cord injuries can be particularly traumatic because they affect nerve fibers not just in the area that is initially injured but often also all the muscles or nerves below that area. For example, a lower back injury might affect leg muscle function, or a neck injury could make it harder to breathe.
Treatment and Rehabilitation
Spinal cord injuries are generally irreversible, but proper treatment - often including surgery - can help stabilize the spine and prevent further damage. Going forward, medications can help with pain and other issues, and physical and occupational therapists can help the injured person learn how to navigate daily life again.
Thanks to advances in treatment and adaptive technologies, many people with spinal cord injuries are able to eventually return to the work and activities they love.
In many of spinal cord injury cases, someone other than the injured person is at fault, and they can often be held responsible for many of the costs associated with the injury that aren't covered by insurance. These costs might include:
- Wheelchairs and adaptive technology
- Ongoing physical and occupational therapy as well as counseling
- Lost earnings during the recovery period
- Pain and suffering
It's a good idea to consult with an attorney to make sure you or your loved one receives the full compensation needed to cover the financial impacts of the injury. Reducing financial worries can help you focus on the all-important work of recovering.