Motorcycle Accidents and Spinal Cord Injuries
Motorcycle accidents are known for the severity of the injuries they can cause. According to a 2009 study published in Accident Analysis & Prevention by Taipei Medical University’s Institute of Injury Prevention and Control, mile for mile, motorcycle riders have 34 times greater risk of death in an accident than other types of motor vehicles.
Thousands of people are seriously injured in motorcycle accidents each year, many of whom sustain spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. The risk of spinal injuries amongst motorcycle accident victims is resounding. In a 2002 study published in Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, researchers at St. James’s University Hospital in the United Kingdom analyzed over 1,000 motorcycle accidents from 1993 to 2000. They found that over 11 percent of the victims sustained a spinal injury.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries Motorcyclists Commonly Sustain
The researchers at St. James tried to identify patterns and outcomes of motorcycle crashes. They found that many riders experience spinal injuries on multiple levels, and that the thoracic spine is the spinal area most commonly injured, occurring in 54.8 percent of the riders who suffered a spinal injury. Lumbar spinal injuries occur almost 30 percent of the time, while the cervical area sustains injury in 27 percent of the accidents.
Furthermore, the researchers found that:
- almost 20 percent of the riders sustained neurologic injuries;
- almost 25 percent of them had isolated injuries to the spine; and
- over 10 percent of the riders sustained fatal injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries: Incomplete and Complete
Medical professionals categorize spinal cord injuries in several ways, one of which is complete or incomplete. The location and severity of the injury determines the extent of the symptoms and which body parts will be affected.
An incomplete injury means that the spinal cord has not completely lost its ability to send messages to the brain. Some sensation and function is still possible below the level of injury. Doctors will assess the patient and try to assign a level of injury.
Some of the types of incomplete spinal cord injuries (and the location of the damage) include:
- anterior cord syndrome (front of the spinal cord);
- central cord syndrome (center of the spinal cord);
- posterior cord syndrome (back of the spinal cord);
- Brown-Séquard syndrome (only one side of the spinal cord is damaged); and
- cauda equina lesion cauda equina lesions s (nerves between the first and second lumbar region of the spine).
In some cases of incomplete spinal injury, partial recovery may be possible. This is not generally the case with complete injuries, characterized by a total lack of sensation and motor function below the injury site. Doctors may further categorize complete spinal cord injuries as paraplegia (paralysis of the legs); and quadriplegia (paralysis in all four limbs).
Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries
Damage to the spinal cord cannot be reversed. Because there is currently no cure for paralysis or spinal cord injuries, treatment focuses on helping the patient prevent and deal with complications and maintain as much personal independence possible.
When a motorcycle rider sustains a spinal cord injury, attending physicians may include several avenues of treatment such as:
- methylprednisolone for reducing nerve damage;
- traction for stabilizing the spine;
- surgery to remove bone fragments, decompress the nerves, or help stabilize the spine;
- physical therapy;
- occupational therapy; and
- medications for pain and muscle spasticity.
Patients should speak with their doctors and determine which options might be suitable.
Hiring an Accident Attorney for Legal Help
There are no words sufficient to describe the effect a spinal cord injury can have on someone’s life after a motorcycle accident. It takes a huge toll on the victim’s entire family, their financial wellbeing, and their future as a whole.
If you or your loved one suffered a serious injury in an accident in or around Hilliard, you may able to file a negligence suit against the at-fault party to collect restitution. Contact David Bressman at 866-777-6680 to schedule a free consultation today.