Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord consists of four main parts: the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine and sacral spine. The cervical spine lies at the top of the spine while the sacral is at the bottom. An injury to any part of the spine could cause serious and permanent physical disabilities. The lower on the spine the injury occurs, however, the milder its effects will be on the patient.
Where Is the Lumbar Spine?
The seven vertebrae in the neck make up the cervical spine. Beneath that, connecting the base of the neck to the abdomen, is the long thoracic spine. The thoracic spine contains 12 vertebrae. Below the thoracic spine is the lumbar spine. Vertebrae L1 to L5 make up the lumbar spine. After the lumbar spine come the five vertebrae of the sacral spine.
Like the rest of the spinal cord, the lumbar spine contains important nerves, muscles and tissues in charge of communications between the brain and the body. The nerves in the lumbar spine are responsible for transmitting messages to the legs. If the lumbar spine sustains a serious injury, it could permanently interrupt the signals coming from the brain. The signals will not reach the legs, resulting in a type of paralysis called paraplegia.
Types of Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries
Paraplegia is the loss of function and sensation in the lower body. A victim may suffer paraplegia in just the legs or the legs, hips and some of the torso, such as the sexual organs, bladder and bowels. A complete lumbar spinal cord injury can cause complete paralysis. If the patient suffers an incomplete injury, he or she may retain some feeling or motor function in the affected area. The severity of the spinal cord injury will determine the extent of the disability.
Not all lumbar spinal cord injuries will result in paraplegia. Less serious injuries to the lower spine could cause limited movement or feeling in the affected area, or numbness or tingling in the legs. A patient may only suffer chronic lower back pain after a minor injury to the lumbar spine. In serious cases, however, the bottom of the spine can suffer irreparable damage.
The level of paraplegia will vary according to which vertebra in the lumbar spine suffered the injury. Injuries to the lowest lumbar vertebra (L5) may only impact the ability to flex one’s toes, while injuries to L4 can restrict the bending of the foot. Injuries to L3 can prevent the knee from straightening. Injuries to the L2 or L1 vertebrae can limit hip movement and affect everything lower than the hip.
Recovering From a Lumbar Spine Injury
All spinal cord injuries are serious. However, injuries to the lumbar spine are generally less severe than injuries impacting the uppermost portions of the spine. Victims with lumbar spine injuries will still retain a great deal of independence. They will still be able to move their upper bodies, arms and potentially their hips. The main type of accommodation someone with a lumbar spine injury may need is a wheelchair. Home and vehicle modifications could also help someone with paraplegia live independently.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates the lifetime costs of paraplegia around $2.3 million if the victim was 25 at the time of the injury. The first year costs an average of $519,520, while every year after that will cost $68,821. If another person was responsible for causing the victim’s lumbar spine injury, the victim may be able to pursue the costs of medical care and other expenses through a civil injury claim.
In Arizona, personal injury claimants have two years from the date of their injuries to file civil lawsuits. A civil suit with help from an attorney could provide compensation for the spinal cord injury victim’s past and future losses. The total amount of a settlement award or jury verdict could cover all existing and foreseeable expenses related to a lumbar spine injury. It could also include compensation for intangible losses, such as emotional distress and lost enjoyment of life.
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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.