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Work-related spinal cord injuries could end your career

Work-related spinal cord injuries could end your career

There are many kinds of work injuries that people suffer as a result of their employment. Some people, like factory workers, professional drivers or even office employees, can experience repetitive motion injuries that result from accumulated damage over time. Others could risk head injuries due to slips, trips or falling objects.

There is also the potential for spinal cord injuries at just about any kind of workplace. Many people think that spinal cord injuries only happen to those in very dangerous occupations. People commonly associate spinal cord damage with falls. However, there is broad range of accidents that can cause spinal cord damage and any of these could keep you from continuing the pursuit of your career.

Spinal cord injuries can happen in a variety of circumstances

Many people think of spinal cord injuries as the result of a fall. It is true that falling from great heights can lead to a spinal fracture and, thus, spinal cord damage. However, many other circumstances can also result in a spinal cord injury.

People who drive for a living could suffer this kind of injury in a collision. Those who work with heavy machinery could suffer this injury as the result of being struck by machinery or pinned by the machinery against a wall or a fixture. It is even possible for someone who works in a seemingly safe environment, like an office, to fall down some stairs due to a wet spot on the floor and injure one’s spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries vary in intensity and effect

Depending on the severity of the injury and the location of it, people can experience a range of symptoms after a spinal cord injury. Typically, medical doctors classify spinal cord injuries as complete or incomplete.

An incomplete injury involves the cutting, tearing, puncturing or pinching of your spinal cord without completely severing it. These injuries, in some cases, may heal in time or may improve after surgery. Some people may recover full function, while others may have persistent pain, neuropathy or function issues for years afterward.

Complete spinal cord injuries involve the full severing of the spinal cord. While physical therapy is often needed to maintain some muscle tone in the area affected by a complete spinal cord injury, as of now, these conditions are not treatable or curable. There is hope for medical progress in the future to help people with complete spinal cord injuries regain motor control of affected areas, but, currently, that technology does not exist.

Spinal cord injuries can affect a large part of your body and keep you out of work

Typically speaking, any part of the body below the location of the injury will suffer impaired function. For complete spinal cord injuries, any area below the injury site will no longer respond to the person’s attempt to utilize it. An injury in the mid back, for example, will preclude someone from using his or her legs. A higher spinal cord injury, such as one in the neck, may keep someone from moving any part of one’s torso, including arms.

Regardless of the location of the injury, spinal cord injuries are often debilitating and require accommodation from employers. In some cases, special equipment may help a person resume one’s job. In other cases, a change of responsibilities may allow someone to remain employed despite the injury. For others, it is impossible to return to work.

Some people who have spinal cord injuries may require daily support for the rest of their lives. Regardless of the location or severity of your work-related spinal cord injury, you should familiarize yourself with your rights. Most workers who get hurt severely at work will qualify for workers compensation coverage. Make sure you explore all of your options since a spinal cord injuries can often prove financially devastating.

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