Living with a Spinal Injury

22 June 2020

Sustaining a spinal injury is a life changing event.  A variety of symptoms can present.  For example, loss of limb function, sensory disturbance or loss of bowel and bladder function.  This makes it essential that an individual who has suffered a spinal injury accesses specialist medical and rehabilitative treatment as soon as possible to achieve the best possible outcome.

Upon sustaining a spinal cord injury an individual will typically be admitted to one of the spinal injury treatment centres across the country.  Their injury will be classified using the ASIA scale and they will receive appropriate medical and therapeutic treatment.  The individual will also be taught how to manage their condition (including how to use a wheelchair safely or self-catheterise) and live with their newly acquired injury.  Attention will also be given to ensure the psychological consequences of a spinal injury are dealt with by providing specialist counselling support.  The individual will remain under the care of a spinal injury treatment centre on an outpatient basis to ensure any acute medical issues are dealt with in a timely manner.

An individual with a newly acquired spinal injury will also be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience collated by organisations such as the Spinal Injuries Association and the Back Up Trust.  This knowledge covers the financial implications of a spinal injury, equipment and medical issues and the physical and psychological impact of living with such a devastating injury.  Although such an injury is a life changing event it does not have to mean the end of a meaningful life.  With on-going advances in treatment and technology spinal injury does not necessarily mean no longer being able to participate in employment, family or leisure pursuits.  Examples of how individuals can reconnect with their pre-injury lives include –

  • provision of mobility equipment (manual, powered or all-terrain wheelchairs) break down accessibility barriers.  Cross country excursions or trips to the beach are possible;
  • adapted accommodation to provide wheelchair accessible living space.  If set up appropriately bathroom and kitchen facilities can be accessible;
  • if appropriate, re-entering the workplace with the employer making reasonable adjustments.  Indeed, with on-going improvements in technology, home and agile working is becoming the norm; and
  • equipment to assist with accessing leisure pursuits: cycling, skiing and wheelchair football are just a few of the pursuits available.

These examples show the extent of possibilities that exist and that life can continue following a spinal injury.  The key to achieving this is accessing specialist treatment and tapping into the knowledge built up over the years across the spinal injury community.

If you, or a member of your family, have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog, or any of our other blogs, please contact one of our specialist back and spinal injury lawyers on or call 020 7814 1200.

About the author

Richard is a partner in the Medical Negligence and Personal Injury team and has a varied caseload with an emphasis on spinal, brain and catastrophic injuries.  He is experienced in all aspects of spinal injury claims including, injuries arising from trauma, orthopaedic and neurosurgical procedures, congenital abnormalities of the spine and failure to diagnosis Cauda Equina Syndrome.  

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