Spinal cord injuries: What injured workers in Georgia should know

Suffering a spinal cord injury may be a life-changing experience for Georgians, but knowing what to expect may help people prepare for their futures.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, approximately 12,000 people across Georgia and the rest of the U.S. suffer spinal cord injuries each year. These serious injuries may be caused by such accidents as motor vehicle collisions, workplace incidents, or slips or falls. Understand the basics of such injuries may help know what to expect and plan for their futures.

How are spinal cord injuries classified?

As a result of a blow or some other trauma to their spine, people's vertebrae may be dislocated or broken. When this causes damage to the spinal cord, it is referred to as a spinal cord injury. These conditions are classified as complete or incomplete based on factors, including the extent of their injuries. Complete spinal cord injuries are characterized by the total loss of their motor function and almost all their feeling. Spinal injuries are labeled as incomplete when people still have some level of motor function.

What are the symptoms?

Those who suffer trauma to their spinal cords may experience a range of symptoms, depending on the severity of their injuries. These may include the following:

· Loss of feeling

· Loss of bladder or bowel control

· Pain

· Impaired breathing

· Loss of mobility

Spinal cord injuries may also cause muscle spasms, exaggerated reflexes, and changes in people's sexual function or fertility. In some cases, the symptoms resulting from these ailments may prevent people from returning to work or force them to make significant lifestyle changes.

How are spinal cord injuries treated?

Following accidents resulting in spinal cord injuries, those who are hurt often require emergency medical treatment. In such situations, the first steps are often to stabilize the spine, blood pressure and lung function. People may then undergo a series of tests to determine the extent of the damage. Since spinal cord injuries cannot be reversed, treatment may be aimed at controlling people's symptoms and preventing additional damage.

The costs of treating spinal cord injuries may add up quickly. In addition to needing emergency medical treatment, some people may require life-long medical care as a result of their ailments. For those who are injured on the job, their medical expenses may be covered by workers' compensation benefits through their employers.

Consult with a legal representative

Suffering a spinal cord injury may profoundly affect the lives of workers and others in Georgia. Being off work for an extended period while they recover, or being left unable to return at all, may affect people's ability to provide for themselves and their families. Therefore, those who have experienced such injuries may find it helpful to seek legal guidance. An attorney may explain their rights and help them understand their options for seeking financial compensation for their losses.