spinal cord injuries

It is estimated that about 250,000 individuals currently live with spinal cord injuries in the United States. As many as 12,000 new spinal cord injuries occur every year. A spinal cord injury is a trauma that results in permanent damage to the spinal cord. In general, traumatic spinal injuries result from either penetration or non-penetration injuries.

Penetration typically occurs when a sharp object such as a bullet enters the body and damages the spinal cord. Non-penetrating injuries typically damage the spinal cord from either whiplash mechanisms, such as in auto accidents, or trips and falls causing fractures in vertebrae.

After experiencing the initial traumatic event, patients suffering from spinal cord injury commonly experience persistent bleeding, swelling and inflammation, and additional damage to the spinal cord caused by the collection of fluid.

What Exactly is the Spinal Cord and How is it Damaged?

The spinal cord is a long rod-like bundle of nervous tissue containing nerve fibers in your back that carry signals between your body and brain. Serving as an extension of your brain, it is susceptible to any type of damage and can affect muscle control and sensory input throughout the body.

A fracture can cause spinal cord injuries in the vertebrae, which is the bone that protects and encases the spinal cord. Fractured vertebrae can cause pressure to be placed on the spinal cord, causing it to bruise, or in extreme situations, it may pierce and tear the tissue. In other instances, spinal discs can herniate, causing pressure on or rupturing the spinal cord.

Why Do Spinal Injuries Occur in New York?

The major causes of spinal cord injuries in New York City are:

  • Vehicular Accidents: 40 % of spinal cord injuries are caused by automobile accidents each year. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, impaired movement, and restricted blood flow to the organs within the body.
  • Slips & Falls: Falls account for 25% of all spinal cord injuries. The risk of experiencing a fall increases with age, which often makes older men and women more likely candidates for a spinal cord injury.
  • Violence: A violent crime is committed every 5 seconds, accounting for roughly 7% of total injuries reported in the United States. Gunshot wounds, fistfights and knife wounds are liable for more than 15% of spinal cord injuries annually.
  • Sports & Recreation: Spinal cord injuries can occur in any of the highly physical sports, including football, hockey, wrestling, skiing, and cheerleading, and account for approximately 8% of these injuries every year. Hazardous playing conditions or failure to properly use protective equipment can often contribute to spinal cord injuries.
  • Alcohol: Liquor is responsible for more than 1/4th of spinal cord injuries. Many other substances like marijuana and cocaine can cause impairment, leading to poor judgment while driving, resulting in accidents and spinal cord injuries.
  • Other Diseases: The human spine comprises bones called vertebrae that allow for movement, support weight, and protect nerves. Each spinal vertebra connects to the one below and above it by a joint cushioned with cartilage and bound together by ligaments. If a person suffers from diseases like osteoporosis, arthritis or cancer, their bones will become weak, and the protective tissues surrounding their joints can weaken, causing spinal instability.

How New York City Car Accidents Can Cause Spinal Cord Injuries?

Sudden trauma from a car accident can cause excruciating spinal cord injuries. While these injuries are already severe, the degree of damage depends on the location, force and direction of impact. A car crash causes a shock wave of force to move down the spinal cord and interrupts the essential communication networks between brain function and body movement.

The result is any movement of limbs, muscles or involuntary systems can be disturbed at multiple levels above or below the point of impact. A car accident resulting in spinal cord damage can leave you paralyzed, making it difficult to walk and perform other functions.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

In general, there are three regions of the spine, and they include the lumbar spine (lower back), thoracic spine (mid-back), and cervical spine (upper back and neck). Each region is responsible for different functions in the body. For example, nerves that control your legs run through the lumbar spine, while nerves that control your arms and hands go through your mid-back.

A group of bones protects the spinal cord called the vertebrae. When the vertebra is damaged, it will typically affect how the body works in areas below the location of the injury. Injuries high up on your spine can be especially dangerous because they can impact your respiratory system, resulting in death if not treated on time.

Spinal injuries usually fall into two types: complete and incomplete. A complete injury involves all the nerve pathways in the spinal cord being damaged or severed. An incomplete injury is less severe, allowing some function to return within a specific area but not the entire body.

Fractured Vertebrae

Vertebral body fractures, commonly called spinal cord injuries, involve damage to one or more of the 33 vertebrae in the human spine. The severity of the injury depends on how stable the spine is post-fracture. Fractured vertebrae are common injuries associated with car crashes, motorcycle crashes, and workplace accidents.

Herniated or Ruptured Discs

A herniated or ruptured disc occurs when the soft interior portion of the spinal disc tears through its tough exterior. This causes pressure on spinal nerve roots that can cause pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and muscle atrophy. Since several types of injuries may cause herniated or ruptured discs, and symptoms vary from case to case, it is vital for you to see your chiropractor right away to make an exact diagnosis.

Bulging Discs

Bulging discs have a high risk of becoming herniated. It occurs when the disc within your spinal column begins to protrude or bulge out of its natural position. This can occur from old injuries, repetitive motions usually from playing golf or baseball, and car accidents. If left untreated, this condition can cause severe problems, including damage to the nerves of your spinal cord and even tears in your spinal ligaments.

Pinched nerves

The nerves in your spinal cord are like computer cables sending signals to every part of your body. When a bulging or herniated disc presses on a nerve, it can cause pain, tingling, or numbness to other areas of your body. Pinched nerves can be caused by bone spurs, herniated discs, excessive spinal curvature (scoliosis), vertebral fractures and many other conditions.


Paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower limbs, results from injury to the spinal cord, usually in the thoracic region that has not destroyed it completely. Various forms of injury can result in this physical disability, ranging from harm caused by tumors and fractures to damage caused by gunshot wounds or knife wounds.


A quadriplegia is a severe form of paralysis caused by damage to the cervical spine. It can result in complete or partial loss of arm, leg, and trunk movements and cause difficulty doing everyday tasks such as eating and bathing.

Spinal Cord Injury Treatment

Spinal cord injuries can cause a person to become paralyzed and lose the ability to perform essential functions such as walking, eating, and even breathing. Not all spinal cord injuries are created equal, and treatment options vary widely based on the severity of the damage.

If a person sustains a moderate or severe injury, aggressive treatments that may include steroid medication, drug therapy, and physical therapy could help reduce the harm to the nervous system and may even restore limited abilities in many cases. Many patients may need long-term care, which could include respiratory support and physical therapy to relearn simple tasks and psychological counseling to deal with emotional trauma.

However, people who suffer from spinal cord injuries may experience permanent changes in physical and mental abilities. A spinal cord injury rehabilitation program is essential to optimize recovery and help survivors cope with their new lifestyle.

Spinal Cord Injury Accident Damages Claim

Injuries to the spinal cord often result in paralysis. If negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions by another led to the spinal cord injury that resulted in paralysis, a personal injury claim could help you recover compensatory damages for medical expenses, rehabilitation and physical therapy, pain and suffering, lost wages due to missed work, and many other harms that were not purposely inflicted.

Contact an Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Attorney in New York City

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, our personal injury attorneys in New York have a strong reputation for taking on civil lawsuits on behalf of those who suffer spinal cord injuries. We know that a spinal cord injury can lead to life-changing issues, including substantial medical bills, loss of income, and long-term care.

Our legal team will work with you closely to build the most robust possible case from the outset. In addition, we have the resources to conduct an extensive investigation into accident reconstruction and help those who were hit by a car get the compensation they deserve.

Our attorneys have worked on car accident cases with spinal cord injuries and have a strong track record of success.

To discuss your case in greater detail, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at 212-344-1000 or contact us online.


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