When someone suffers a catastrophic spinal cord injury, their future is immediately clouded by a barrage of questions: How quickly will recovery proceed and to what degree? What will it mean for career and family? And what kind of complications or secondary effects are to be expected? Fortunately, modern science and technology have made it easier to predict complications of spinal cord injury and, as a result, determine appropriate compensation.
After the injury the hard work begins: medical, rehabilitation and legal experts all go to work for the injured person, whose own personal battle lies ahead. Dealing with such a serious injury extends even beyond being confined to a wheelchair or no longer being able to perform the same job. It means dealing with a wide variety of secondary problems, some of which are apparent right after the injury, while others develop over time.
Respiratory problems are common to spinal cord injuries that occur at a certain height in the body, usually around the diaphragm. In extreme cases, breathing might not even be possible without the temporary or permanent help of a ventilator. Infection and pneumonia can arise because of weakened breathing muscles and intubation, making immediate recovery even harder.
Those same breathing problems seen during the day can carry over into night, leading to sleep apnea, a problem that is much more common among those with spinal cord injury than without. Disturbed sleep presents a whole host of side effects including trouble functioning during the day.
Because spinal cord injuries typically affect everything below the source of trauma, problems with the bladder and bowel are quite common. A disrupted line of communication to and from the brain makes previously simple functions a nightmare – and an embarrassment for many injury sufferers.
Medical research also suggests that apoptosis, a cell-destroying process, occurs in some instances of traumatic injuries. This degeneration of tissue around the area of trauma threatens recovery and, as a type of secondary injury, needs to be dealt with early on.
Seek out a personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience in medico-legal cases and strong connections to qualified medical and rehabilitation professionals. At Futerman Partners LLP, we have been handling the most complex spinal cord injury claims for over 30 years.