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You might not walk away from a crash as a pedestrian

In a collision between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle, there's no contest. The pedestrian often suffers catastrophic injuries while the occupants of the vehicle emerge unscathed. Other than a head injury, one of the most serious injuries you might suffer as a pedestrian occurs to your spinal cord.

As you deal with doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, you're undoubtedly inundated with medical jargon and discussions about your injury. Much of the fear associated with such an injury comes from not understanding what's going on inside your body. This article attempts to dispel some of those fears by giving a broad explanation of spinal cord injuries.

The function of the spinal cord

The nerves in the spinal cord send messages back and forth between your brain and the rest of your body. They also direct sensations, muscle control and movement, and autonomic functions such as your heart beat and breathing.

An injury to your spine and spinal cord interrupts these messages. When doctors discuss the "level" of your injury, they try to determine at what point on your body you retain normal sensations, function and movement. For example, an injury to the cervical spine affects most of the body (normally from the shoulders down), but an injury to the bottom of the thoracic spine affects only the portion of your body below it (normally from the waist down).

An incomplete versus a complete spinal cord injury

When doctors discuss the severity of your injury, they refer to it as either incomplete or complete. Whether you fully recover, partially recover or remain paralyzed for the rest of your life could depend on which type of injury you suffered. You retain more sensation, movement and function in an incomplete injury, which means a greater chance of recovery. The chances of a full recovery with a complete spinal cord injury remain low.

In any case, your recovery could take a significant amount of time, patience and work on your part. You will more than likely need considerable medical care, physical therapy and other services even under the best of circumstances. You could lose income, time with your family and friends, and participation in activities you enjoyed prior to your injury. It's nearly impossible to avoid financial losses under these circumstances.

If the driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident in which you were involved was negligent, you could seek compensation through Connecticut's civil courts. Providing the court with evidence that the other driver's actions caused your injury could result in an award of damages to help with your financial needs. In order to determine what kind of damages to award, the court also needs details regarding your injury, such as your prognosis for recovery and any permanent affects it will have on your life. An attorney not only understands how to establish negligence of the other party, but also how to quantify your injuries into a dollar amount the court can potentially award.

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