How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Affect The Brain And Body?


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A spinal cord injury is one of the most severe injuries you can suffer. These types of injuries may have long-lasting effects and complications that can permanently change your life. Some spinal cord injuries are devasting enough that you cannot return to working or to the activities you enjoy. Even daily tasks can be too challenging to perform, and you may need to hire someone to take care of you and your home.

Sometimes spinal cord injuries are caused or exacerbated by the negligent practices of a medical professional. A medical malpractice lawsuit may help you receive monetary compensation for your medical expenses and pain and suffering in these cases. 

What Happens In The Body When The Spinal Cord Is Injured? 

When a spinal cord injury happens, there is swelling at the damaged area of the spinal cord, which cuts off critical blood supply to nerve tissue, starving it of oxygen. This puts a flood of devastating effects in motion:

  • Blood flow slows. The slowing of the blood at the injury site starts to reduce blood flow in nearby areas, which quickly affects all parts of the body. This causes the body to be unable to regulate blood pressure and heart rate, and they drop drastically.
  • Neurotransmitters are released. The spinal cord injury causes a flood of neurotransmitters (biochemicals that allow nerve cells to “talk” to each other). The excessive release of neurotransmitters causes nerve cells to become overexcited, killing them in a process called excitotoxicity. This process also destroys the crucial oligodendrocytes that protect the spinal axons with insulation that allows the spinal nerves to communicate with the brain.
  • Immune cells cause inflammation. Next, a mass of cells of the immune system swarms the injured area of the spine. They help by cleaning up dead cellular debris and preventing infection. However, they also cause inflammation. In addition, the immune system cells release small proteins that, in large concentrations, can be toxic to nerve cells, including those that maintain the insulation around spinal axons.
  • Free radicals attack. The inflammation unleashes a current of free radicals (highly reactive oxygen molecules) that react detrimentally with various kinds of cellular molecules, damaging healthy nerve cells in the process.
  • Nerve cells self-destruct. The natural process of cell death goes wild at the injury site, diminishing the integrity of the spinal cord. It isn’t known why this happens.

Over the days and weeks following a spinal cord injury, additional damage typically occurs due to swelling, bleeding, and the accumulation of excess fluid in and around the spinal cord. 

How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Affect Brain Function?

Spinal cord injuries cause inflammation that can impact the entire nervous system, including the brain. Even if your injury has no direct effect on the brain, you may still notice that you are experiencing cognitive symptoms like memory and thought process problems, changes in mood, and problem-solving abilities. Some factors are thought to cause such cognitive symptoms. They include: 

  • Inflammation that affects the whole central nervous system.
  • Damage due to insufficient supply of oxygen.
  • Managing post-injury symptoms with antidepressants, powerful painkillers, or other medications.
  • The impact the traumatic spinal cord injury has on the mental health of the individual and the effects of adjusting to life with the spinal cord injury.

Why Choose Ross Feller Casey For Your Spinal Cord Injury Claim?

The experienced attorneys at Ross Feller Casey have an unmatched record of litigating complex personal injury cases, including spinal cord injury lawsuits. We have won numerous multimillion-dollar court cases in these types of cases, helping the wrongly injured party cope financially with the burden left by the negligence of others.

Contact the law office of Ross Feller Casey to discuss your case today. There are time limits on spinal cord injury claims, so don’t delay. Your consultation is free, and your case will be handled on a contingency basis. That means you won’t pay until your case is settled or won in court. 

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.