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How Spinal Cord Damage Occurs During a Rear-End Car Accident

The spinal cord runs down the middle of the back and carries signals from the brain to distant parts of the body. Any damage can impair a person’s mobility and/or sensation. When the spinal cord is completely severed, victims typically become paralyzed from that point and below.

As Los Angeles car accident attorneys, we have seen horrific injuries from rear-end collisions, but spinal cord injuries are usually the worst. During a rear-end collision, your spinal cord can be compressed, which can cause dislocated disc or fractured vertebrae.

A Closer Look at the Spinal Cord

Before you can understand how rear-end collisions cause spinal cord damage, you first need to understand the spinal cord.  Running from the base of the spine up to the bottom of the skull, the spinal cord is encased by circular bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae form a shield, protecting the spinal cord from damage.

In between each vertebra is a jelly-like disc which cushions the vertebrae. Over time, these discs become worn down, which is why people tend to shrink as they age. Sufficient trauma can also cause these discs to rupture or dislodge.

Any damage to the spinal cord can result in impairment and pain. When something presses against the spinal cord, then the injury can become permanent if it is not corrected.

Rear-End Collisions

A violent rear-end collision can cause motorists to be thrown forward. If they are wearing a seat belt, then the belt will ultimately arrest this forward motion. However, the motorist then rebounds backward.

This violent back-and-forth rocking leads to whiplash of the neck, but it can also damage the spine, which becomes compressed. The violent motion can easily cause a disc to slip or rupture. The stage is set for spinal cord injuries.

Any slipped disc can put pressure on the spinal cord, causing near constant pain. If the disc ruptures, then a patient might experience inflammation, which can also cause pain even if no nerves are compressed directly. A victim often needs surgery to relieve the pressure and return the disc to the correct position.

Shattered Vertebrae

In extreme rear-end collisions, the protective vertebrae can crack or shatter. If pieces of the vertebrae break away, they can cut directly into the spinal cord or bruise it. Any damage to the spinal cord can result in partial or complete paralysis. Car accidents account for almost half of all spinal cord injuries, so there is a decent chance that a car accident can damage your spinal cord.

When vertebrae shatter, the first order of business is to stabilize the patient, who often needs surgery and is put in a brace to limit movement. Bone fragments need to be removed so that the patient can heal. If the spinal cord is only lightly bruised or damaged, then rehabilitation can sometimes help a victim overcome their impairments. But when the cord is completely cut, then the patient will be paralyzed.

Injured in a Crash? There is Only One Los Angeles Firm to Call

Spinal cord injuries are very expensive to treat, and our clients need compensation to help pay for past, present, and future medical bills. Helpfully, we know how to maximize the compensation you can receive for all your economic losses, including lost wages.

If you or a loved one has been injured, please reach out to El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers today. We offer a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers, which you can schedule by calling 213-985-1120.