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A spinal cord injury (SCI) that causes paraplegia is a complex, devastating and long-term physical and psychological traumatic event. If the accident that caused the injury was as a result of negligence on the part of another person, you may have a valid solicitors compensation claim. Our paraplegia solicitors deal with spine injury compensation claims using the no win no fee* scheme. Victims of negligence are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earnings (past, present & future) and all other reasonably incurred losses.

Paraplegia is defined as impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities which is usually caused by spinal cord injury. Paraplegia describes complete or incomplete paralysis affecting the legs and possibly also the trunk, but not the arms. The extent to which the trunk is affected depends on the level of spinal cord injury. Paraplegia is predominantly the result of a spinal cord injury due to an accident or other trauma. Most common accidents include motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and falls.

The spinal cord stretches from the brain down to the middle of the back. Nerves travel within the cord and carry messages to and from the brain from various parts of the body. The spinal cord is encapsulated and protected by bony vertebrae. Millions of nerves enter and exit the spinal cord through the vertebrae and are connected to every part of the human body. These nerves are known as the peripheral nervous system and they are grouped in bundles. Ascending bundles carry data to the brain, while descending nerves deliver commands to the body to perform movements.

Paraplegia Claim Solicitors

Our spine injury solicitors deal with compensation claims ranging from relatively minor issues through to injury of the utmost severity including paraplegia and tetraplegia. We deal with spinal injury compensation claims using the no win no fee* scheme. We operate the no win no fee* scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. If you would like to speak to a spinal injury compensation claim solicitor just use the helpline or email our offices. We offer advice at no cost in person or on the telephone with no further obligation.

Spine Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can be caused in a number of ways. Blunt force trauma, a penetration injury or extreme torsion of the torso can all cause permanent or temporary trauma to the spinal cord. For example, if you are in a rear-end motor vehicle accident, the force of your head, neck or back suddenly accelerating and decelerating is enough to cause a spinal cord injury. A penetration injury may consist of a bullet or knife wound. Extreme torsion may occur with electrocution. A fall from height or diving into a shallow pool can result in spinal cord injury. Contact sports can also cause spinal cord injuries. In all cases, if there is a negligent third party who caused the accident, our paralegia solicitors may be able to help you to obtain an award of damages for personal injury.

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

The type of spinal cord injury sustained depends greatly upon the area of the spine injured. Paralysis or partial paralysis may occur, which may be temporary or permanent. Other symptoms, common to traumatic injuries, include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock
  • Bladder control loss
  • Bowel control loss
  • Weakness
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Pale, clammy skin

These symptoms, in concert with direct spinal cord injury, are dangerous and must be assessed and treated immediately.

Initial Emergency Protocols

A person suspected of sustaining a spinal cord injury must be approached carefully. It is imperative that the injured person is NOT moved. His or her neck should be immobilized as gently as possible to avoid further spinal cord trauma. A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency and emergency response personnel should be summoned immediately.

Upon arrival at hospital, the patient is assessed and if necessary, surgery to relieve pressure on the spine is performed. Alleviating pressure may possibly increase the likelihood of a more successful prognosis. If, however, the spinal cord has been severed, surgery cannot rectify the situation by re-attaching the ends.

Prescriptions medications are also helpful in reducing spinal cord presssure caused by swelling tissue. A common medication, methylpredisolone, is administered intravenously. Methylpredisone must be dispensed within 8 hours of the injury to be beneficial. Methylpredisolone, a steroid medication, works in several ways. It:

  • Augments blood circulation to the spinal cord
  • Suppresses immunological cells to prevent nerve fiber damage
  • Prevents oxidative lipid deterioration
  • Reduces amino acid neurotoxicity stimulation, thus decreasing the possibility of nerve damage

Hypoxia - a lack of oxygen to parts of or the entire body - must be counteracted through delivery of oxygen.

SCI Assessment

Health care professionals have a variety of diagnostic tests available to assess the location and degree of spinal cord injury. A complete physical examination is conducted to determine whether motor and sensory reactions are present.

A specific type of x-ray, a myelogram, is conducted, whereby dye injected into the area of the spinal cord. The dye outlines the spinal cord and should there be injury to the cord, it is quickly apparent.

Another diagnostic option is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan which may be used in place of a myelogram. The electromagnetic energy utilized in an MRI is capable of discerning minute trauma to the spinal cord or vertebrae.

It is important that comprehensive neurological tests be performed as soon as possible and repeated often during the initial phase following the spinal cord injury in order that appropriate treatment is rendered to ensure the best possible outcome. The first week after the injury is especially vital.

The Neurologic Level of Injury is key to determining the magnitude of the spinal cord injury. This test is performed on muscles groups on the left and right side of the body. A grade is assigned based on the highest level of function. There are six grades:

  • Grade 5: Muscle movement possible against full resistance and gravity. Normal level.
  • Grade 4: Muscle movement possible against moderate resistance and gravity. Good level.
  • Grade 3: Muscle movement possible against gravity only, impossible against resistance. Fair level.
  • Grade 2: Muscle movement possible only without gravity or resistance. Poor level.
  • Grade 1: Muscle and joint movement can only be felt through palpitation. Trace level.
  • Grade 0: No palpable contraction or muscle movement. Zero level.

Motor levels for both upper and lower functionality are at levels C5, C6, C7, C8 and T1 for upper level extremities and L2, L3, L4, L5 and S1 for lower level extremities. Sensory capabilities are tested at 28 locations along the spine for both upper and lower levels and are graded from 0 to 2. Zero means sensory capacity is absent; 1 indicates sensory capacity is impaired and 2 means there is full sensory capacity.

Should a person lose use of both arms and legs, he or she is designated a quadriplegic. Quadriplegic injuries are typically located in the cervical spine. A paraplegic is unable to use his or her legs. In this case, the injury is generally located in the lumbar or thoracic spine.

SCI Surgery

Surgery is not appropriate for all paraplegia cases and has a guarded prognosis. Surgery is utilised to stabilise the spine with medical devices, remove floating debris, such as bone fragments and relieve pressure. If the patient does undergo surgery, the spine typically does not return to its former mobility.

SCI Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation from a spinal cord injury can be complex and lengthy. The patient will have several health care professionals involved in his or her rehabilitation plan. The severity of the spinal cord injury determines which health care professionals are required and the patient's needs, such as learning to complete normal daily self-care activities including eating, dressing and personal hygiene.

Health care professionals who may be involved in the patient's rehabilitation include:

  • Physiatrist
  • Speech Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Vocational Therapist
  • Recreational Therapist

These health care professionals work together to build and implement a treatment plan to enable to patient to regain as much independence in his or her daily life as possible. A case manager may oversee the patient's care.

Patients who suffer a spinal cord injury sustain more than just physical injury; they also experience emotional trauma from the sudden and devastating effects of the spinal cord injury. A psychologist or social worker may be necessary to assist the patient's to come to terms with his or her injury and its limitations.

Patients with spinal cord injuries are susceptible to other medical conditions. Common amongst these are bed sores from the pressure of lying in one position. Bed sores can quickly become infected if they are not treated. Pain, spastic movements, muscle shortening and tightening resulting in joint distortion, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints and soft tissue may develop secondary problems to the spinal cord injury. Cardiac difficulties are all potential medial issues for an individual with a spinal cord injury.

Devices and techniques have been developed to assist a spinal cord patient to recoup as much mobility as possible. The health care professional team may utilise various devices to assist the patient in his her daily life. It is the goal of the team to provide a patient with the best physical and emotional quality of life based on his or her circumstances.

SCI Prognosis

It is impossible to state a standard prognosis for victims of spinal cord injuries. Each patient's outcome depends greatly on the severity of the injury and the competence of his or her health care team. It is important to be aware that rehabilitation may take several months.

Prompt treatment is vital to convalescence. Therapy is the most important component to a positive outcome. Loss of function is typically most dramatic during the initial phase after the injury; some function is often recovered during the months after the injury. However, there may be a permanent loss of capacity in upper or lower extremities, such as specific movements or the ability to perform tasks.

Having a spinal cord injury does not necessarily mean a patient becomes wholly dependent on others to perform every necessary task, such as eating, hygiene, etc. Most patients do become productive members of society through the assistance of occupational therapists.

Spinal cord injuries are sudden, traumatic and devastating to both the patient and his or her family and friends. Yet, if the patient's family and friends become involved in his or her recovery phase, the patient has a supportive network during rehabilitation and is less liable to suffer severe mental anguish and recuperate faster.

no win no fee* Solicitors

Injuries of the utmost severity are technical and complex and it is important to have a specialist paraplegia solicitor involved from the very beginning. Our paraplegia solicitors use the risk free no win no fee* scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement for paraplegia, quadriplegia or tetraplegia claims. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. If you would like legal advice at no cost just use the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices and a member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of personal injury experts will speak to you on the telephone at no cost and with no further obligation.



*Legal Information

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here