Spinal cord injuries have many causes, but at its most basic, a spinal cord injury is an injury to the spinal cord as a result of trauma leading to some level of loss of function of the spinal cord. This usually translates into a loss of body functions, as the nerves that control the body all pass through the spinal cord. Such loss of function can include anything from loss of feeling in the extremities – anything from temporary numbness in a finger or two all the way to permanent loss of feeling in an arm or a leg – all the way to paralysis, where you lose the ability to move parts of your body. Further, nerves do not heal, particularly in the case of a break in the spinal cord, meaning that spinal cord injuries are considerably more likely than other types of injuries to lead to long-term or permanent disability. These kinds of injuries can be both debilitating and expensive. The legal and health care legal costs related to spinal cord injuries are more than $29 billion each year and rising.
Traffic Accidents are the Main Cause of Spinal Cord Injuries
Traffic accidents, including passenger vehicle and motorcycle accidents, are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries each year in the United States. Traffic accidents account for almost half of all spinal cord injuries in the U.S. annually. This unwelcome distinction falls disproportionately upon motorcycle riders, who are easily the least well-protected users of the nation’s roads and highways. Even with a helmet on, a motorcycle rider is more exposed than anyone in the smallest, lightest passenger vehicle. In a collision with another vehicle, or even a single-vehicle accident, the motorcyclist almost always incurs worse injuries than the occupant of a passenger vehicle. Motorcycle riders have no steel cocoon surrounding them, nor anything to keep them from flying from their vehicles – rather, they are practically certain of being thrown from their bikes in an accident. This leaves motorcycle riders especially vulnerable to spinal cord injuries. In addition to colliding with another vehicle, they all too frequently are thrown from their bike and hit some other object, whether it be a tree, sign, telephone pole, another vehicle, or even “just” the pavement.