The spinal column is primarily responsible for relaying messages back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body. Each region of the spine is responsible for communicating with a different part of the body.
The thoracic spinal column is responsible for communication with the hands, fingers, back, chest, shoulders, abdominals, and trunk. Consequently, an injury to your spine’s thoracic region can be devastating—and result in loss of sensation and mobility in these areas of the body. Many thoracic injury victims experience debilitating and chronic pain. Others are forced out of work because of lower-body paralysis.
The physical, emotional, and financial repercussions of a thoracic injury can be overwhelming.
What Are the Most Common Types of Thoracic Injuries?
The consequences of a spinal cord injury will depend on which part of the spine is damaged. The spine is divided into five different sections. From top to bottom, they include: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal. Thoracic injuries occur when the thoracic region of your spine is harmed.
The thoracic region of the spine, which is attached to the rib cage, includes vertebrae T1 through T12. The T1 vertebrae sits closest to the cervical spine, while T12 sits closest to the lumbar spine. Generally speaking, the higher on the spine the damage, the more severe the injury. As a result, the consequences of a thoracic injury involving the T1 or T3 vertebrae will be much direr than those involving lower vertebrae.
If you suffer a thoracic spinal injury you may experience:
- Paraplegia (paralysis of the legs)
- Difficulty controlling motor function in the fingers and hands
- Inability to control your torso and abdominal muscles, and
- Loss of the control over bladder and bowel functions.
You are much less likely to suffer lower-body paralysis if your injury is close to the bottom of the thoracic injury.
What Are the Symptoms of a Thoracic Injury?
Since the thoracic spine is responsible for communications with several areas of the body, there is a wide range of thoracic injury symptoms. When the spinal cord is injured, symptoms tend to be visible in the area “below the level of injury.” The higher the injury on the spinal cord, the more of the body that is likely to be affected.
Symptoms of a thoracic injury may include:
- Difficulty moving your shoulders
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Loss of physical sensation and feelings of pain
- Chronic pain
- Back pain
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness
- Difficulty breathing, and/or
- Loss of consciousness.
Thoracic injuries are not typically fatal. However, a severe thoracic injury could result in death.
How are Thoracic Injuries Treated?
Thoracic injuries can have a significant impact on your life. Even relatively minor injuries can result in chronic pain and prevent you from doing the things you love. More severe injuries can result in the paralysis of your lower body. The extent of your injury will determine which treatment(s) may be best.
Surgery. Surgery can help to relieve tension and pressure from the point of injury. Spinal fusion surgery can also help to strengthen the damaged spine and prevent the injury from worsening over time. Fusion surgeries will significantly affect your mobility.
Rehabilitation. You may need to retrain your body to work properly after suffering a thoracic injury. Occupational therapy and rehabilitation can be extremely helpful during your recovery.
Medication. There are two types of drugs that can be helpful after your thoracic injury. The first are anti-inflammatory drugs. These will help to reduce inflammation and pressure in the spine and help your mobility. Pain medication can also be issued to help you cope with the chronic pain your thoracic injury may trigger.
What Are the Causes and Costs of Thoracic Injuries?
Commonly reported causes of thoracic injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle collisions
- Recreational vehicle accidents
- Recreational activities
- Gunshot wounds
- Workplace accidents, and
- Boat accidents
Although the causes of thoracic injuries may vary, the results are usually the same: severe pain and costly medical treatments. The average cost in the first year of this type of injury is approximately $347,000. Each year after that, the average cost is around $42,000. These figures don’t even factor in things like lost benefits and wages or disability.
According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the average lifetime treatment costs for a 25-year-old suffering from a thoracic injury will be approximately $1,578,000. A 50 year old suffering the same injury can expect to see about $1,113,000 in costs over their lifetime.
What Damages Are Available to a Thoracic Injury Victim?
Spinal cord injuries almost always result in significant medical expenses, extensive lost wages, and intense pain and suffering. If you injured the thoracic region of your spine while working, you might be able to recover workers compensation for your medical bills and lost income. If someone else caused your injury due to their negligence, you can recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
Personal injury cases offer victims two broad forms of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages compensate you for your financial losses after an accident. Non-economic damages make up for the personal, non-financial losses that accompany your injuries.
Thoracic injury victims may be entitled to money for:
- Medical expenses
- Nursing care
- Lost wages
- Chronic pain
- Emotional suffering
- Embarrassment, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Money won’t make your injury go away, but it can help you manage the fallout.
What is the Time Limit for a Thoracic Injury Claim?
You have the right to demand compensation from someone who caused your accident and injury. However, you do not have an unlimited amount of time. There is a four-year statute of limitations on bodily injury claims in Florida. Simply put, you will not be able to get the money you deserve if you don’t file your claim on time.
Contact Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
Have you or someone you love recently suffered a thoracic injury in a Miami accident? The attorneys at Lavent Law, P.A. can help to make sure that you are fairly compensated for your injury. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with our legal team. We will review the details of your accident and explain your legal rights. The sooner you call us for help, the sooner we can get you the money you need.