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When doctors suspect you have a spinal cord injury

A spinal cord injury can be one of the most devastating injuries you can suffer. This is why emergency responders to the accident in which you were involved likely took many precautions if they even suspected an injury to your back or neck. This may have included the use of a backboard and neck brace as well as careful techniques for moving and transporting you to the hospital.

Because damage to the spinal cord may lead to permanent disability, you likely underwent a comprehensive battery of tests. Doctors wanted to learn the location and extent of your injuries to be able to determine how the damage to your spinal cord might affect your long-term prognosis.

Potential damages

The spinal cord is not just part of the back. It houses nerves roots that allow for sensation and movement through every part of the body. Some cells that make up the sympathetic nerve system (SNS) are also nestled into the spinal column. These SNS cells control your breathing, your digestion and the ability of your blood vessels to function normally.

The SNS also controls the ability of your lymphatic organs to adequately protect you from infection. This is why doctors may be especially concerned about urinary tract infections and pneumonia, since these conditions are frequently causes of death in those who suffer from injuries to the spinal cord.

Diagnosing a spinal cord injury

When you arrived at a Texas hospital, a medical team began a complete assessment of your condition, including your ability to move and feel pain in your extremities. To confirm the suspicion that your spinal cord suffered damage, doctors likely ordered a series of tests including:

  • X-rays to find obvious fractures in the spine
  • Computed tomography, or CT scan, to see the spinal injuries more accurately
  • CT angiography, which uses dyes to clarify the blood vessels in your neck and back
  • Magnetic resonance imaging, known as MRI, that can show herniation, hemorrhaging or soft tissue damage that is not evident in other tests
  • Electrophysiology, which uses your body's own electrical signals to determine if the nerve pathways in the spinal cord have been damaged.

After these tests, some of which must be done multiple times as swelling reduces and healing begins, your doctor may be ready to discuss a course of action for your recovery and improvement. This may include surgery, pain management, rehabilitation or other ways to offer a positive quality of life.

As you can imagine, the cost for tests alone may be astronomical, and the expenses related to your continued care can reach higher than you can imagine. An attorney can advise you regarding the opportunity to explore options for seeking financial assistance, including the possibility of filing a civil claim against the person responsible for the accident that led to your injuries.

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