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Spinal cord injury following a tractor-trailer accident

A motor vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer can result in catastrophic injuries. The driver and passengers in smaller vehicles often have little to protect them from the size and weight of a big rig, and the outcome can be life-changing. If your loved one has recently suffered such injuries, you may have many anxieties about the future.

Among the many possible injuries a tractor-trailer accident victim may suffer is a spinal cord injury. The spinal cord houses the nerve center for most of the body, and once damaged is often beyond repair. Before your loved one's medical team can inform you of their prognosis, they will have to do a series of diagnostic tests to assess the level of damage your loved one's spine endured.

Diagnosing the damage

The first responders to the accident likely secured your loved one's spinal column by placing a brace around the neck and moving him or her onto a backboard. With extreme care to minimize the chances of increasing any damage, paramedics transported your loved one to a Texas hospital where medical professionals began the work of stabilization and assessment. Over the course of hours and days, your loved one underwent a variety of tests including the following:

  • X-rays: While these pictures show noticeable fractures, they may not reveal less obvious damage to the spine.
  • CT scan: Computed tomography may be a better choice than an X-ray because of its clearer images, but it will not show soft tissue damage in the disks or nerve roots.
  • CT angiography: To see details in the spine's blood vessels, doctor's use dye to create contrast.
  • Electrophysiology: The electrical signals in your loved one's body can indicate to doctors if there is a disruption caused by damage to the nerve pathways.
  • MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging can show doctors the location of any herniated disks, hemorrhages or other abnormalities in the soft tissue.

The MRI has advantages, such as allowing doctors to assess the need for your loved one to be placed in traction or to undergo surgery for disk issues. However, doctors may be reluctant to use this technology because it requires moving your loved one, and this may exacerbate the injury to the spinal cord.

Seeking the help you need

The diagnosis your loved one's medical team makes will determine the level of care and assistance he or she will need. Depending on the extent of harm and the area on the spine where the injury occurred, your loved one may face partial or complete paralysis and other medical conditions that result from damage to the nerves within the spinal cord.

To ensure your loved one receives the highest level of care possible, you may wish to explore the options for seeking restitution from those responsible for the trucking accident that left your loved one with such a severe injury.

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