When a spinal cord injury attorney examines the value of an injury lawsuit, he or she will look carefully at the long-term prognosis. In most cases where a spinal cord injury is “complete,” the likelihood one will ever walk again – or regain function of any significant degree at or below the injury site – is infintesimal. A spinal cord injury lawsuit centering on an incomplete injury may be return somewhat lesser damages for the greater chance there could be regained function, motion or feeling at or below the site of the injury. Still, if these functions aren’t restored within the first six months, the chances they will ever be are quite small.
However, the results of a recent experimental spinal cord injury treatment, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals how a Florida woman was one of a handful of paralyzed patients who is reportedly “walking” again. The Citrus County woman, 23, was one of the patients who suffered a complete spinal cord injury, “signifying no voluntary movement or sphincter function below the level of injury.” Though some did retain some level of sensation, they were not expected to recover independent walking. The 14 test patient subjects were roughly 2.5 years to 3.3 years post-traumatic spinal injury for whom recovery was not forthcoming with locomotor training alone. Researchers with the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center gave the patients some 278 epidural stimulation (electrical nerve stimulators placed in the spinal cord) and gate training over a period of 15 to 85 weeks.
All experienced voluntary movement with the implant, and also improved their bowel and bladder function. Four achieved independent standing and trunk stability. Two achieved over-ground walking (not on a treadmill). In addition to the young woman from Florida, the other person who regained walking function had been paralyzed from the neck down. When the stimulator is off, he is unable to even sit up. When it’s on, he can take small steps with a walker.
It’s a small study, and the results weren’t universal. However, as any experienced spinal cord injury attorney will plainly see, these results are major. What it means, according to the doctors, is that under certain conditions, it IS possible for the spinal circuitry to learn how to walk again. It’s far too soon to say whether this will have any impact on anyone filing a spinal cord injury lawsuit, though whatever impact it has probably won’t be significant, given how little we know about the spinal injury cases in which this may be possible. The doctors were careful to note the experimental treatment wasn’t as successful with each participant.
Working With Experienced Florida Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Imperative
The Florida woman in this case was 19 when she sustained her complete spinal cord injury in a Florida car accident several years ago. She was told she would never walk again. Today at 24, she knows that’s not exactly true. Though her success in the trial is limited (she must still use a walker), the experimental new treatment has renewed her hope of an independent life. Still, in examining her situation from a perspective of spinal cord injury lawsuit damages, her career options, independence and function remain significantly limited. However, any regained mobility, feeling and function can have a major difference in the degree to which one can remain independent and ultimately enjoy a longer life expectancy.
A lead researcher of the study was quoted as saying, “This should change our thinking about people with paralysis. … It shows more proof that people with severe paralysis often have residual connections that can be engaged in a functionally relevant manner – and that’s amazing.”
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries in Florida include:
- Motor vehicle accidents;
- Falls from heights;
- Falls from floor-level;
- Violence (gun violence in particular).
Working with an attorney who has a track record of success in dealing with spinal cord injury lawsuits will help ensure you are getting a fair resolution to your claim.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights with a South Florida spinal cord injury attorney. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
‘Amazing’ treatment helps paralyzed people walk again, Sept. 25, 2018, By Wayne Drash, CNN
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Teen’s Head Injury on Universal Studios Ride Leads to Lawsuit, May 31, 2018, Orlando Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Blog