The spinal cord is an extension of the brain and is made up of a thick bundle of nerves. The nerves carry messages from our brain to the rest of our body. These messages help us to move our body, feel pressure and control vital functions like breathing, blood pressure, bladder and bowels. When the spinal cord is damaged, the communication between our brain and the rest of our body is disrupted, resulting in a loss of movement and sensation from below the level of injury. Damage to the spinal cord can be caused by a trauma like an accident, or as a result of infection or disease.
The higher up you damage the spinal cord, the more movement and sensation will be lost.
- Damage to your spinal cord in your back will result in paraplegia. Paraplegia affects the movement and sensation in your legs and possibly some stomach muscles.
- Damage to the spinal cord in your neck will result in tetraplegia. Tetraplegia affects movement and sensation in all four limbs, as well as stomach and some chest muscles.
It is important to be aware that the loss of movement and sensation will vary from person to person, even with those who have damaged their spinal cord in the same place.
Placing the person back as if the accident never happened
The Courts when assessing the level of compensation a person should be awarded use this basic maxim in deciding what the final figure is. It is artificial and can only mean an award of damages to “compensate” for the loss caused by the injury and in relation to spinal injury this means the costs of replacing the injured persons independence and reliance of their body to do the everyday things in a society that is set up wholly for those who can walk . This means more than just the costs of a wheel chair and its maintenance over a lifetime as being in the chair is only part of the picture. How one gets from A-B in that chair and how one gets from that chair to another sofa or settee or bed and out again without the power and use of ones legs or in some cases even the arms as well is something that can only be helped with assistance.
In my case of the bike Mr J he was fiercely independent with strong upper arms though his right arm had also been injured in the accident. He was happy to agree to help with his transfers from his fellow bikers as they were insistent on helping but when he was away from them and at hoke or out and about on his own he found it increasingly difficult to do the things he wanted to do. If he wanted to transfer from his wheel chair to his Trike he needed help but of increasing concern was the fact that he would over compensate using his arms to force a transfer and with the passing years his ability to perform this would be lessened and lessened.
Ageing and the need to accept support
Mr J understood that in refusing help not only was his life more difficult and impoverished ,as he would simply not go out if he didn’t have help, but that he was not helping his case either. The claim is a once and for all claim – he couldn’t go back to court if in years to come he suddenly realised that he did need that extra help after all. With the passage of time we all age and deteriorate and so it is important to understand this when looking at the likely future needs which will increase as the individual maybe doesn’t have the strength in his arms to deal with transfers alone.