October is National Spinal Health Month

October is National Spinal Health Month, offering Californians of all ages the chance to learn more about how to protect themselves from spinal cord injuries and keep a healthy spine. Back and spine injuries are among the catastrophic injuries that are the most difficult and expensive to treat. Even relatively minor back or spine injuries may require an extended time to heal and impair your functioning in a number of ways.

To protect your spinal health, consider the following tips:

  • Practice safe lifting. Bending from the waist, especially when picking up heavy objects, increases your risks of spinal injuries. When lifting, engage your abdominal muscles and bend your knees to lift with your leg muscles, not your back.
  • Exercise for a healthy spine. Adding exercises to improve your core strength, work on flexibility, and cross-train your body all help improve spinal health, which protects your back and may reduce the severity of your injuries in an accident. Avoid straining or jerking your back or any other part of your body when you exercise.
  • Wear supportive shoes. Wearing shoes with cushioned, supportive, non-skid soles can help protect your back and spine, especially if your job requires you to be on your feet for extended periods of time.

Our experienced San Diego spinal cord injury attorneys can help you protect your legal rights and seek the compensation you need after a back or spinal cord injury. For a free and confidential case evaluation, call us today.

Rollovers, Seat Belt Misuse Key Factors in Car Accident Spinal Cord Injuries

Studies of spinal cord injuries suffered in car accidents have identified several key factors. Improper seat belt use, rollovers, and vehicles with a higher center of gravity all increase the risk that someone in the vehicle will suffer a catastrophic spinal cord injury during an accident.

A study published in the journal Accident: Analysis and Prevention found that 70 percent of spinal cord injuries suffered in car accidents occurred during a rollover accident. Thirty-nine percent of those injured in these accidents suffered spinal cord damage when they were involved in a vehicle ejection. Only 25 percent of spinal cord injury survivors were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Seat belt use is the key to preventing spinal cord damage in car crashes, but using seat belts properly is just as important. A 2011 study in the World Journal of Pediatrics found that spinal cord injuries were reduced when vehicle occupants wore seat belts with shoulder harnesses, instead of wearing a seat belt across their laps only. The study also found that people who relied solely on the airbag, instead of both the airbag and seat belt, were more likely to suffer damage to the cervical spine – the type of damage that can cause permanent paralysis.

Spinal cord injuries are just one of the types of catastrophic injuries a severe car accident can cause. If you or someone you care for has suffered such devastating injuries, the skilled San Diego spinal cord injury accident attorneys can help. To discuss your situation with us, contact us today.

Helpful Information About Back Pain and Spinal Injuries

One of the most common injuries suffered by San Diego accident victims is a spinal injury, typically resulting in pain to their back or neck. The spine is the foundation and structure for your entire body, so an injury to the spine can be very serious.

Spinal Injuries: Back Pain and Neck Injury

Spinal injuries are serious, common, and are injuries that can affect people the world over from many different incidents. While different diseases such as spina bifida or polio used to be the main causes of spinal problems, the use of motor vehicles and public transportation have made Americans more likely to suffer from the most dangerous forms of spinal injuries. Despite the best attempts to keep everyone safe, we still hear of car accidents in Chula Vista, pedestrian hit-and-runs in San Diego, Amtrak crashes in Oceanside, and, as of recently, train collisions in DC.

Most Californians are involved in some kind of car or traffic accident at some point in their lives. No matter where you are hit, how intensely you are pushed, the force and spinal injury caused by such collisions are unnatural and overall harmful for those involved. Other causes can be gunshot wounds or falls. The spine is one of the most important, and most delicate parts, of our bodies. Back injuries can leave lasting and traumatic disability to all of us.

Spinal cord injury, or SCI, is any damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function or mobility. The spinal cord does not have to be severed to leave lasting disability, but damage to the spinal cord can leave a lifelong impact. SCI can be anything from back injuries, ruptured discs, spinal stenosis, or pinched nerves.

The spinal cord is roughly 18 inches long and extends from the base of the brain down to the waist. The nerves embedded by the spinal cord carry messages from your brain to other parts of the body. The vertebra along your spine are categorized, the top being Cervical, (the first vertebrae is C-1), followed by Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral.

Some common injuries to the spinal cord resulting from car accidents, falls, or injuries are below.

Disc bulging: A bulging disc related to the lumbar nerves occurs when a disc bulges through a crevice in the spine. Discs are the soft, gelatinous material that cushions the vertebrae, and a bulge occurs when it shifts out of its normal radius from accidents or simply old age. Disc bulges can go unnoticed and remain unsymptomatic if they do not hit a nerve.

Herniated disc: Herniated discs cause pain in the back, legs, or lower extremities. When a disc herniation occurs, the cushion between spinal vertebrae is dislocated. Disc herniation normally would not be problematic except that the dense amount of nerves nearby means that the disc tends to hit and rest on nerves that cause the person a lot of constant pain. When the elastic of the disc ruptures, it can get pushed out and can pinch nerves. Many people who experience a herniated discs already suffer from spinal stenosis, which causes narrowing of the space between the spine and the nerves.

Disc rupture: A disc rupture can occur anywhere throughout the spine. Most commonly it occurs near cervical or lumbar nerves. A disc rupture can cause radiculopathy, which is a root nerve irritation and can cause pain going up and down arms or legs, coupled with weakness or numbness.

Approximately 450,000 people live with SCI within the United States. There are about 10,000 new SCI’s every year, and the majority of them (82%) involve males between the ages of 16-30. Motor vehicle accidents leaving these injuries account for 36% of the total, violence is 28.9%, and different types of falls are 21.2%.

With this rate of serious injury that can result from a car or motorcycle accident in San Diego, don’t be unprepared. Contact us for help if this has ever happened to you or a loved one.

Understanding the Effects of a San Diego Spinal Cord Injury Accident

While modern medical treatment can cause full recovery from a variety of injuries, even the most sophisticated treatment cannot undo the damage caused by many spinal cord injury accidents. Accidents such as falls and car crashes in San Diego have violent impacts which can cause long-term and possibly permanent damage that alters how a person’s body functions.

The spinal cord is commonly injured by being twisted, extended, or compacted in an unnatural way that damages it suddenly. Additionally, swelling or broken vertebrae can put pressure on the cord or pierce it, which can cause temporary or permanent damage depending on the severity of the injury.

The spinal cord is categorized into sections, and injury to each section has different effects. The higher the injury, the more widespread the effects, with all injuries that would result at a lower level also occurring when injured at a higher point in the spine.

Cervical
Starting at the neck, this section is separated into levels C1 –C7 based on the vertebrae, with the highest injuries affecting neck movement and breathing through the lowest, which affect the shoulder, arm, and hand movement.

Thoracic
Beginning at the high back and continuing to the lower back, this section includes T1 – T12. Injuries here affect body control of the abdomen and trunk below the arms when they occur high in the section and partial loss of abdomen and trunk muscle control when they occur lower.

Lumbosacral
The bottom portion of the spinal column and tailbone is made up of sections L1 – L5 and S1 and S2. Injuries here affect various leg muscle control abilities, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function.

While some spinal cord injuries are temporary or only have a limited effect on an accident victim’s body, many others are permanent and have widespread effects. In either case, victims have the right to seek compensation for their losses from at-fault parties and should immediately seek experienced legal help following an accident. The San Diego spinal cord injury lawyers can aid you in your case and apply their years of experience to your lawsuit. Contact us today for a consultation.