One of the most common type of injuries a person may suffer from a Car Accident is a Spine Injury.  The most common Car Accident involves one vehicle striking another resulting in sudden deceleration of one or more vehicles.  In technical terms the change in velocity is often referred to as “Delta V”.  This sudden change in velocity often results in injuries – broken bones, brain injuries, amputations, loss of vision, etc.  This article will generally describe Spinal Cord and Herniated Disc Injuries that one may sustain as a result of a Car Accident.  The spine is a series of bones called vertebrae that surround and protect nerve tissues (Spinal Cord) inside that come from the brain and travel to varies parts of the body to control movement and sensation.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal Cord Injuries are catastrophic injuries that often result in loss of life or significant loss in bodily function.  If the trauma victim survives, these injuries can sometimes require millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, to assist the injured person in maintaining any significant quality of life.  Miami, Florida has one of the world’s best cure research centers for these injuries – The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  Injuries involving the Spinal Cord are generally classified into two categories – Complete Spinal Cord Injuries and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries.  These are the most serious of Spinal Injuries and certainly not the most common as a result of a car accident.  A Complete Spinal Cord Injury involves permanent loss of all function and sensation of the area below the trauma.  Complete Spinal Cord Injury as a result of a T1 trauma will generally result in complete loss in sensation and function of the body below the waist.  Higher Spinal Cord Injuries can result in loss of function and sensation in the upper extremities.  Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries are much more common.  They usually involve the loss of movement but maintained sensation or vice-versa.  There are several different technical terms that describe the 5 different types of Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury:

  • Anterior Cord Syndrome – Generally involves decreased temperature, touch and pain sensations.
  • Posterior Cord Syndrome – Generallly affects coordination but maintains a large amount of other functions.
  • Central Cord Syndrome – Generally affects the arms more than the legs.
  • Brown-Sequard  Syndrome – Generally affects one side of the body more than the other.
  • Cauda Equina – Generally caused by spinal injury between the first and second lumbar vertabrae.

There are also much less severe Spinal Cord Injuries that heal over time generally caused by contusions.

Herniated Discs

One of the most common type of back injury resulting from a Car Accident is called a Herniated Disc.  The vertebrae that travel up and down the back that surround the spinal cord are bones that are separated by a softer material called a “disc”.  These discs are described in many different ways – often as rubbery or jelly-like.  They essentially give the body the ability to twist and turn above the waist without having the vertebral bones rubbing against each other.

When a Car Accident causes the body to stop suddenly, the body torques and often causes unbearable pressure on the disc at one or more levels.  When the disc gives way and shoots out of the disc space between the vertebrae it is often called a “herniated disc” or “ruptured disc” or “protruding discs”.  This material often enters the area of the spinal cord and causes impingement of the nerves.  This can lead to pain, numbness and in extreme cases loss of muscle control.  Sometimes these injuries can be treated with therapy.  Other times spinal surgery is required to alleviate the disc material’s pressure on the nerve at that area of the spine.  The surgery can include removal of the part of the disc that herniated, removal of the entire disc and requiring two or more vertebrae to be fused together, or many options in between.  Regardless of the procedure, the injured person will be left with significant therapy and, in all likelihood, a permanent injury.

A Spine Injury can be a traumatic event leaving the injured person and his/her loved one’s with a life altering medical condition, astronomical medical expenses and lost income.  Jeffrey S. Altman of The Altman Law Firm is a Miami Car Accident Lawyer who prides himself on maximizing client recovery and helping the client retain his/her dignity.  Our office is located in Miami just minutes away from North Miami, North Miami Beach, Miami Shores, South Beach and Aventura.  Jeffrey S. Altman has been representing victims of Car Accidents in Miami, Florida since 1998.  Please visit our website or call 305.373.3730 for a Free Consultation.