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Spinal Cord Injuries

by  on  Accident Attorney

On June 6, 2014, Olympic six-time gold medalist Amy Van Dyken Rouen was thrown from her ATV in a near-fatal collision near her home in Arizona. The Olympic Hall of Famer was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident but miraculously suffered no head trauma. Furthermore, one of her broken vertebrae stopped within millimeters of rupturing her aorta. Unfortunately, however, Van Dyken Rouen’s spinal cord was severed, resulting in paralysis from her waist down. She left the hospital in Arizona on June 19th for spinal cord injury rehabilitation in Colorado. During a spontaneous press conference, while being transported from the hospital to a waiting ambulance (to take her to a plane to Colorado), Van Dyken Rouen said she was happy to be alive and looking forward to this next chapter in her life.

As your Denver accident attorney knows, spinal cord injuries can be devastating. The technical definition of a spinal cord injury is damage to the bones of the spine that surround the spinal cord. The most common cause of traumatic spinal cord injury worldwide is vehicular accidents. Vehicular accidents accounted for 1,774 or 39.19% of spinal cord injuries between 2005—2012. The spinal cord is well-protected in the body by the bones surrounding it. But as demonstrated in Van Dyken Rouen’s ATV accident, vehicular accidents often have enough impact and force to cause severe injury to the spinal cord. 

The second most common cause of traumatic spinal cord injury is accidental falls. Falls accounted for 1,294 or 28.59% of spinal cord injuries between 2005—2012. There was no one type of fall that accounted for the majority of injuries. The third most common cause of traumatic spinal cord injury is violence. Acts of violence accounted for 694 or 15.33% of spinal cord injuries from 2005—2012. The great majority of spinal cord injuries due to violence are caused by gunshot wounds. 

Spinal cord injuries are particularly debilitating because they often result in paralysis. The higher up the spinal column the trauma occurs, the worse the damage to mobility and sensation becomes. For example, when someone breaks their neck, they often become quadriplegics because all mobility and sensation from the neck down cease. If the spinal cord is severed close to the waist, as with Van Dyken Rouen, then the loss of mobility and sensation is from the waist down (paraplegic). Approximately 450,000 people in the U.S. live with spinal cord injuries, and there are 10,000 new spinal cord injuries every year. 

There is no cure for traumatic spinal cord injury. Getting rehabilitation at a center that specializes in spinal cord injuries is critical to achieving the best possible recovery; the first 18 months to two years following a traumatic spinal cord injury is the crucial time period for working with patients.

Your Denver accident attorney knows that a devastating injury such as traumatic spinal cord injury can leave you overwhelmed with medical bills from hospital care, household bills that have gone unpaid due to an inability to work, and countless other expenses incurred while coping with this catastrophic event. You may even be struggling to afford the rehabilitation essential to moving forward to the best possible quality of life. If so, call Denver accident attorney Jordan Levine at Levine Law for a consultation regarding your legal rights.