Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries Face Challenges Down the Road
Spinal cord injuries are one of the most life-altering injuries one can experience. These injuries often cause permanent changes to one’s physical functions, which can have impacts far beyond being able to use one’s limbs, including unique financial and emotional challenges.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
spinal cord injury damages a part of the spinal cord, the nerve superhighway. This type of injury often causes permanent loss of control of bodily functions, strength and sensation below the affected part of the spinal cord.
Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. Complete means that all feeling is lost below the injury, while incomplete injuries allow some function below the place of injury. Common causes of spinal cord injuries include motor vehicle accidents, violent assaults and medical conditions like cancer, arthritis and infection.
Coping with the Challenges of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries affect all aspects of a patient’s life. They are considered
catastrophic injuries because they are so devastating to the patient and their loved ones. The loss of function of part of the body causes emotional and mental stress on patients and their families, and often create anxiety about the injury’s effect on family finances and personal relationships is normal.
Survivors of spinal cord injuries often require months or even years of rehabilitation, part of which may force them to live apart from their families in special medical facilities. The strain of being apart from loved ones can be especially harsh. Fortunately, support groups exist to help patients cope, and talking with a mental health professional can be especially helpful to both patients and their families.
Spinal cord injuries prevent patients from working at least temporarily and sometimes permanently. Rehabilitation is costly and places strain on a family’s finances. Social Security Disability Insurance may be available to patients who have paid into the Social Security system for a prescribed number of years, and Supplemental Security Income may be available on a need basis. Workers’ compensation benefits may also be available if a spinal cord injury is work-related.
Spinal cord injuries are life-altering events, but they need not be devastating events. Individuals living with spinal cord injuries should seek mental health support and openly communicate with family members about emotional and financial worries. If you or a loved one was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident or other traumatic event, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights.