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What happens after a crash causes a spinal cord injury?

People can hurt their spinal cords in car crashes and falls. Individuals who recognize the early warning signs of a spinal cord injury will likely panic and have a hard time thinking about the future.

Intense emotional reactions and fear may prevent someone from thinking rationally after discovering a serious injury. It may only be days later, after medical professionals have stabilized their condition, that they start to think about the long-term impact of the injury on their life. What consequences do spinal cord injuries cause?

A lifetime of medical care needs

Some spinal cord injuries do not fully sever the spinal cord. These incomplete injuries sometimes improve when the body heals and an individual undergoes physical therapy or surgery. Other people, with complete spinal cord injuries, may not recover function or sensation below the injury site, but they will still require ongoing medical care.

Physical therapy, assistive technology and pain management are among the lifetime care costs related to spinal cord injuries. Many people will have millions of dollars in medical expenses after a spinal cord injury.

A drop in earning potential

Most people with a spinal cord injury will see a significant reduction in their household income as a result of their injuries. Blue-collar workers are at particular risk of seeing a dramatic drop in their income.

Even those whose jobs do not require physical functions may see a reduction in overall income because they must take time off for medical care. Spinal cord injuries often also result in mental health challenges, such as issues with depression, that could affect someone’s earning potential.

Secondary household expenses

Families often have to absorb numerous secondary expenses related to a spinal cord injury beyond direct medical expenses and lost income for the injured person. For example, another family member may need to leave their job or move to a part-time position to provide healthcare support to the injured family member.

The family may need to move to a different home or make significant modifications to the place where they live. The vehicle the family owns may also need to change or undergo modification to make it wheelchair accessible. Altogether, the costs caused spinal cord injuries often far exceed what insurance will pay following a crash.

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