The spinal cord is an important part of the body that controls much of its functioning. Together with the brain they both make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord is the middle man between the brain and the nerves throughout the body, relaying sent and received signals between the two. Since the spinal cord is very delicate and is so crucial in the functioning of the body, it is protected by the spine. Made up of 24 vertebrae, the spine is divided into three sections; the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar region. These extend from the base of the skull down the torso to the sacrum. By connecting to one another, the vertebrae are able to move and allow for mobility while still creating a strong protection for the spinal cord. Within the center is an opening through which the cord is situated.
While this area is well protected, spinal injuries are a large problem. For those that do sustain one, there is a large cost associated with it. Annually they can cost between $15,000 to $30,000; while they can reach $500,000 to $3 million over a person's lifetime. Each year there are around 12,000 to 14,000 new cases of these injuries. Cases are found to be far more prevalent amongst the male population, making up around 80 percent of all incidents.
When it comes to the spinal cord, there is more than just one way that it can be harmed. The cord may be stretched too far forward or too far backwards and this can cause it to overextend and even tear. This is known as hyperflexion or hyperextension. The spine can also be crushed and shards of it may make their way into the spinal cord, causing various side effects. Different areas of the spinal cord correspond to different parts of the body; when a certain portion is injured, the related functioning can be ruined as well. One of the worst types of spinal cord injuries is when it is torn or severed. A complete severing will mean the area below damage is functionless.
Since the spine is divided into different areas, this location is a large indicator of the damage to be expected. Harm that comes to the cervical area can cause quadriplegia, which means the victim loses control of their limbs and torso. However, not all cervical cases will lead to quadriplegia; different aspects of the upper part of the body can be altered depending on the affected vertebra. For example, a thoracic injury can lead to paraplegia.
When the lumbar or the sacral sections are injured, this can lead to impairment of the lower portion of the body. This includes the functioning of the limbs, as well as the urinary system. In an incomplete injury, there is a greater chance for recovery. In a complete injury, it is to be expected that the victim will never fully heal from their incident but will need to learn how to live with the disability. A spinal cord injury can happen in a second and a worker can find their lives greatly changed from just one misstep. Our team has recovered billions of dollars, including for workers that have been harmed in an oil rig explosion and other types of maritime accidents.
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