Let us say you were on your way to Logan for a business meeting when another driver rear-ended your car at a stoplight.

The impact left you with pain in your lower back, but you were not aware that you had suffered a spinal cord injury and could require long-term care.

About SCI

A spinal cord injury, or SCI, is often the result of a blow to the spine itself that may dislocate vertebrae or fracture bones. The spinal cord, comprised of nerves that carry impulses from the brain to other parts of the body, is delicate and cannot make repairs if damaged. While certain medical conditions such as arthritis or cancer can weaken the spinal cord and make it more susceptible to injury, motor vehicle crashes cause nearly half the SCI cases reported each year.

A look at symptoms

There are two types of SCI: complete and incomplete. Someone who suffers a complete injury will lose the ability to feel below the site of the injury. If the location is the neck area, this could mean quadriplegia-paralysis of both arms and legs. With an incomplete SCI, some level of functioning is still possible below the injury site—the lower back, for example, which could result in paraplegia-paralysis of the legs. In addition to the loss of mobility and feeling, symptoms of SCI may include difficulty breathing, exaggerated reflex actions, muscle spasms, digestive issues and a lack of bladder or bowel control.

Long-term outlook

While there is currently no way to reverse spinal cord damage, doctors can help patients return to as normal a lifestyle as possible with treatment that may include surgery to stabilize the spinal cord, medication and the application of neural prosthetic devices. You were fortunate in that you have an incomplete SCI and received treatment early. Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery may require a lengthy hospital stay and months, if not years, of rehabilitation. Due to the high expense and the prospect of long-term care, a patient whose injury resulted from another driver’s negligence may expect full and fair financial compensation to cover both current and future medical costs