Spinal cord injuries are devastating to the victims of injury and their families. Loss of life, paralysis, pain and low quality of life are all associated with this type of trauma. Due to the high physical, emotional and financial costs of spinal cord injury complications, it is very important to secure a catastrophic injury attorney early to evaluate your case, and help you get the best possible care.
Dr. Greg Vigna is especially qualified to advocate for your legal needs after a spinal cord injury. As a rehabilitation doctor with over twenty years of medical experience, including serving as the medical director of a 60 bed rehab facility, he understands all aspects of primary and secondary spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Dr. Vigna applies his medical and legal experience working with both adult and child spinal cord damage, with his connections to top medical specialists in the field, to get you the best legal settlement or jury ruling possible.
How is the Spinal Cord Injured?
High speed impacts such as motorcycle accidents, falls, assault, work accidents and sports are some of the top causes of spinal cord injury in the U.S. Spinal cord injuries often occur due to flexion, hyperextension, rotation, compression and penetration, and are often associated with secondary serious injury such as head trauma.
A flexion injury is caused when the spine bends too far forward. This can tear tissues and ligaments, break the vertebral bones and damage the spinal cord. In a hyperextension injury the same principles apply, except the spine is bent backwards.
Rotational injuries are common during a motor vehicle accident. The body is twisted violently in different directions causing great strain on the spinal bones and cord. This tears ligaments and destabilizes the spine.
In a compression injury great force is applied at the top or bottom of the spine. The spine is crushed by this force, and many fractures along the bones of the spine are possible. These fractures compress and penetrate into spinal nerves and the spinal cord at numerous points, causing severe damage. Penetrating injuries also happen during assaults, such as a stab wound to the back.
Regardless of the how the spinal cord injury happened, assessment and treatment should be evaluated by leading specialists in the field. Together with medical experts, Dr. Vigna determines the seriousness of your injuries and integrates emerging science into your legal case for the most advanced therapies.
Complete and Incomplete Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are classified as either incomplete or complete. Incomplete injuries still allow a degree of communication between the brain and the body. With extensive therapy it is possible there will be some improvement in symptoms over time.
In a complete injury, there is no communication between the brain and the body below the point at which the cord was injured. Complete injuries usually do not improve with time.
A spinal cord injury is graded according to the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scale. This scale classifies injuries from A through E from the most serious to the least serious.
Injuries classified as “A” are the most complete and serious, while those classified as “E” are the least serious, often without any noticeable symptoms.
In order to get a complete assessment of your needs after spinal cord injury, Dr. Vigna communicates with your medical team to determine the completeness of your injury as he builds your legal case.
Levels of Injury in Spinal Cord Trauma
There are four segments to the human spinal column: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral.
Spinal cord injury symptoms for an injury at any of these segments varies, based on which spinal nerves are involved, and how completely the cord has been damaged.
The Cervical Spine
The cervical spine is made up of the bones, spinal cord and eight spinal cord nerves of your neck. The neck spinal nerves, C1 through C8 control basic life functions including breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Damage to the top portion of the cervical spine, C1 through C4, will often result in death. Damage at any point of between C1 and C8 usually results in paralysis from the neck down, tetraplegia/quadriplegia, the need for personal attendant care and reliance on a ventilator to breathe.
The Thoracic Spine
Your back, from the bottom of the neck to the lower back, has a total of twelve thoracic spinal nerves: T1 through T12. These nerves help you maintain posture by controlling the muscles of the back. They also send signals between internal organs and the brain.
The trunk and legs are affected by spinal cord trauma that involves the thoracic nerves. These injuries can result in paraplegia, paralysis from the trunk down. The arms and hands are usually able to move normally when there is a thoracic spine injury.
The Lumbar Spine
In the lumbar spine (lower back) spinal nerves L1 through L5 communicate with the back, abdomen, genitals, buttocks and legs. Injury to the lumbar spine may leave an individual’s legs paralyzed, although with extensive physical therapy, walking with special leg braces may be possible.
The Sacral Spine
There is one spinal nerve of the sacrum, S-1. It controls the genitals, bowel and bladder function, and parts of the legs and feet. As with lumbar spine injuries, walking may be impaired but possible with special leg braces and directed therapies.
As your catastrophic injury attorney, Dr. Vigna works closely with medical experts to determine where your spine was injured, and what types of dysfunction are associated with the spinal cord damage you sustained. This information is integrated into your legal case.
Spinal Cord Injury Complications
Spinal cord trauma causes many serious life-long complications that severely limit independence and quality of life. Life never goes back to what it was before the injury.
In his rehabilitation practice, Dr. Greg Vigna has managed some of the most severe spinal cord injury symptoms, and understands what you are going through. From breathing difficulty, severe constant pain, paralysis, alterations in heart rate, spastic muscles, bowel and bladder dysfunction, sexual impairment , skin ulcers and depression, he evaluates your symptoms and integrates the best possible therapies required across the lifetime, into your case.