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What can you expect after spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries are among the most traumatic events that can happen to a person's body. They create ongoing complications that go far beyond even the physical devastation of the initial injury.

While anyone can appreciate the enormous consequences of a spinal cord injury on someone's life, most people aren't aware of the additional health problems that are common when someone is immobile.

Immediately after a spinal cord injury, medical care tends to be focused on trying to get the patient into a stable condition. Occasionally, surgery to try to lessen the patient's injury or reduce pressure on a nerve bundle is warranted early on in a case. Most of the ongoing medical care, however, tends to focus on rehabilitation and adaptive medicine.

Spinal cord injuries are so severe that there's not much traditional "recovery." Instead, patients learn to adjust to their new limitations and overcome as many of those as possible. This type of work is usually ongoing for the rest of a patient's life.

In addition, patients with severe spinal cord injuries are often plagued by new medical problems. For example, more than 60 percent of victims with paralysis eventually develop pneumonia. More than half will develop pressure sores at some point. Blood clots and infections are also common. These secondary complications of a spinal cord injury often require extensive treatment all on their own -- and can become an ongoing battle for the patient and his or her caregivers.

The amount of care that a spinal cord injury victim requires to prevent or handle these types of ongoing health complications is enormous. This has to be figured into any settlement that the victim is due when the injury is caused by someone else's negligence. Because there are a lot of variables involved, it's always wise to have experienced legal guidance when pursuing these claims.

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