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Friday 18 May 2018 is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. An opportunity for professionals and charities to come together to raise awareness, increase understanding and generate support for the many people suffering as a result of spinal injuries.

   

Sadly, every eight hours a person in the UK will suffer an injury to their neck or back that will paralyse them and lead to a life confined to a wheelchair.

   

Such injuries could be caused by:

   
  • Falls
  • Road Traffic Accidents
  • Sport
  • Lifting
  • Other trauma
  • Cord compression – Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES)
   

In relation to this last cause, this is a relatively rare diagnosis but one that is easy to miss. People generally consider a slipped disc to be a common place occurrence but one in fifty slipped discs can lead to CES.  Spinal cord decompression surgery can be successful but there is a small window of opportunity for this, which can be as small as 48 hours – following which the injury may be permanent.

 

There are red flag symptoms that doctors should be aware of if a patient presents with what, on the face of it, is straightforward mechanical back pain:

   
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Bladder Dysfunction
  • Bowel Dysfunction
  • Sexual Problems
  • Sensory Loss in Saddle area (bottom)
  • Sensory Loss in Leg or Legs
 

If these are present an urgent MRI is necessary to establish whether cord compression is present and emergency surgery may then follow.

   

The effects of spinal cord injury, however caused, can be catastrophic. The paralysis itself can be extensive but there is often also loss of bladder function; bowel function; sexual function; temperature and circulation.

There are many organisations that support people who have suffered such traumatic injuries. Some are involved in research where it is hoped that, at some point in the future, there may be ways to repair the spinal cord.  Others support those who have been injured as well as their families.  One such charity is Back Up Trust.

   

One of the members of our Clinical Negligence Department has a personal connection with this charity after her friend suffered a spinal cord injury. Jane Lowe will be taking part in the Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 mile cycling event on 29th July to raise funds for the charity.

   

It is perhaps not surprising that an internet search for “spinal cord injury” will reveal a number of solicitors firms at the top of the list of websites. There is a perception that, because the outcome is so devastating, it must be possible to make a claim when an injury like this occurs but this is not always the case.  Any claimant would still have to establish that there has been a breach of duty of care and that this breach has caused the injury.

   

If you have any concerns as a result of this information or think that you may have a claim for yourself or someone you know, please feel free to call us for a no obligation, confidential discussion on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com today.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.