Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic. They may put the victim in a wheelchair for life. Permanent paralysis can arise from severe injuries to any part of the spinal cord. In general, the higher up the injury is on the spine, the greater the level of immobility. Thoracic spinal cord injuries affect the middle of the back and may result in paralysis of the legs and lower torso. Living with a thoracic spine injury comes with unique challenges for the patient.
Where Is the Thoracic Spine?
The thoracic spine is at the center of the spinal cord. It lies between the cervical spine at the top of the spinal cord and the lumbar spine at the bottom. The vertebrae labeled T1 to T12 make up the thoracic spine, which runs from the base of the neck to the bottom of the torso. It is the longest section of the spine, as well as the only one that connects to the ribcage. Each space between the thoracic spine’s 12 vertebrae has a pair of ribs extending from it in either direction.
The thoracic spine supports the cervical spine (the neck). It contains important arteries, nerves and soft tissues that facilitate many body functions. Two of the thoracic spine’s most critical roles are to anchor the ribcage and protect the spinal cord. When the thoracic spine sustains damage in any kind of accident, the nerves of the spinal cord can suffer irreparable damage. This can cause a condition known as paraplegia.
Types of Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to the thoracic spine are typically not fatal. This differs from injuries to the cervical spine, which may instantly kill the victim. The prognosis for patients with thoracic spine injuries is often positive. Early treatment and ongoing rehabilitation can ensure a long, healthy and productive life. The most common condition related to a thoracic spine injury is paraplegia, or loss of motor function and sensation in the lower body.
A thoracic spinal cord injury could cause paralysis in the legs. Some patients also experience loss of bladder control, bowel control and sexual function. Patients with thoracic spine injuries will retain the use of their upper bodies. This includes the chest, respiratory system, upper back, arms and hands. Most patients with this type of injury can live normal lives without needing full-time care. They can live independently thanks to accommodations such as wheelchairs.
Living With Paraplegia
Paraplegia does not affect the ability to breathe, eat or talk. Patients with this condition can generally live alone since they can feed themselves and get around with limited assistance. Most paraplegic individuals can lift themselves into and out of wheelchairs, stand up with help from a frame or leg braces, and drive modified vehicles. Limited mobility and special health concerns, however, could make a paraplegic patient’s life challenging.
Potential complications from paraplegia include pressure ulcers, infections, sepsis, blood clots, impotence and loss of muscle tone. Some of these complications can be fatal. With proper medical care and preventive measures, however, most people with paraplegia can avoid serious issues. The lifetime costs of a permanent thoracic spine injury can exceed $1 million. Most of these costs relate to health care. Treatments such as surgeries or physical rehabilitation could improve a patient’s strength, mobility and independence.
A victim with a thoracic spinal cord injury from someone else’s negligence may have grounds for a lawsuit in Arizona. A car accident claim, for example, could hold a negligent driver accountable for causing a victim’s spinal cord injury. A successful claim for someone with paraplegia could provide compensation for past and future medical expenses, lifelong lost wages, disability costs, physical pain and mental anguish. The severity of the injury will determine the value of the claim.
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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.