Spinal Cord Injury

Last night my good friend Bob died. Ten years ago Bob fell from a climbing tree stand and injured his spinal cord at the level in his neck that paralyzed him from just below his nipples down the rest of his body. He had movement of his arms, but he had no movement below his wrists. Although his injury was tragic, he was blessed in many ways. Bob’s wife Michelle stood by him to the end. She was his cheerleader, his nurse, his partner and friend. She put force in her promise, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health ‘til death do us part.” Bob had good insurance, which continued to pay his bills over the course of his life. Bob had a loving family who stood by him every step of the way. Just as important, if not the most important, Bob’s attitude towards his injury was acceptance of the injury, but a refusal to let his limitations stop him from living his life. Bob continued to work. Bob continued to be an active father in his children’s lives, coaching, counseling and nurturing. Bob spoke at all the area high schools warning the students about hunter safety and sharing his never quit point of view. I will miss Bob.

Another fighter who recently died of complication of his spinal cord injury was Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame member Teddy Pendergrass . Pendergrass was inducted in 2005 when NSCIA founded the SCI Hall of Fame to recognize and honor those making outstanding contributions to the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury and disease.

As an accident attorney and injury attorney, I had the honor of representing Bob, and his family, in the case against the manufacturer of the tree stand from which he fell. Falls are only one cause of spinal cord injuries. The most common causes of spinal cord injury are: motor vehicle accidents (accounting for approximately 50 percent of new injuries), falls (24 percent), violent encounters (11 percent), sports injuries (9 percent), and disease (statistics from the Mayo Clinic). At Young and Young, for over fifty-five years, we have represented families dealing with the effects of spinal cord injuries. We have represented the spinal cord injury whether it was from a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor-trailer, a truck crash or trucking accident, a motorcycle accident, any kind of traffic accident, or construction accident.

There are different types of effects from spinal cord injuries, depending on where in the body the spinal cord injury occurs. If the injury to the Spinal cord is lower in the spine, the effect may be paraparesis or the partial paralysis of the legs or lower part of the body, or paraplegia or the complete paralysis of the legs and lower body. If the injury is higher up in the spinal cord, such as in the neck the effects can be wrongful death if it is very high in the neck, quadriparesis which is the partial paralysis of the trunk of the body and the arms and legs, or quadriplegia which is the complete paralysis of the trunk of the body and the arms and legs.

We recommend that anyone dealing with the effects of spinal cord injury, or who has a loved one dealing with the effects of spinal cord injury, visit the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, (NSCIA).   A huge part of coping with spinal cord injury is knowing that you are not alone. There are many, many resources out there to help you. The assistance ranges from adaptive devices to multiple therapies to vocational rehabilitation.

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