As most Chicagoans are well aware, Bears receiver Johnny Knox suffered a back injury in the Bears’ December loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Knox suffered a fractured, or broken, vertebra – one of the bones in the back which make up the spinal column. Shortly thereafter, Knox underwent surgery to stabilize the vertebra and allow for recovery.
While millions who saw the hit that bent Knox in half backwards, and were horrified and shocked, the truth is that vertebral injuries happen to Americans every day. While Knox’s, and the Bears’, high-profile status brought attention to this type of injury, the truth is that such injuries are alarmingly common.
Most vertebral injuries are not, of course, caused by professional football or even other sports. But these injuries are generally caused by trauma, such as a workplace or auto accident. Vertebral injuries can also result from falls and assaults.
There are four principal types of vertebral injuries: Thoracic, cervical, lumbar, and sacral. Thoracic vertebral injuries occur in the middle portion of the back, from the base of the throat to the bottom of the chest. There are 12 thoracic vertebrae, each attached to a set of ribs. Cervical vertebral injuries occur in the top portion of the spine, typically called the neck. There are seven cervical vertebrae, which together allow the head to turn. Lumbar vertebral injuries occur in the lower back, between the thoracic vertebrae and the pelvis. There are five lumbar vertebrae. Sacral vertebral injuries occur below the lower back, between the pelvis and the end of the spinal column. There are five sacral vertebrae.
Injury or damage to any vertebra can cause severe pain and full or partial paralysis. If paralysis occurs, it generally affects the portions of the body below the injured vertebra. Vertebral injuries can also result in lesser, but still very serious, permanent consequences. These include mobility problems (particularly with the legs or hips), incontinence (either bowel, bladder, or both), muscle weakness or spasms, headaches, chronic pain, loss of sensation, and tingling sensations.
Some vertebral injuries, such as Knox’s, can be treated, while others cannot. Treatments range from surgery to time in a full or partial body cast, temporary or permanent use of a brace, and intensive therapy and rehabilitation.
The victims of a vertebral injury often have a claim against those who caused their injuries, particularly when car or truck accidents occur. Victims can potentially recover their medical expenses, including anticipated future treatment and occupational and physical therapies. Victims can also recover the costs of pain management, and necessary lifestyle changes (modifications to home and car, wheelchairs or braces, etc.). Damages for pain and suffering are also frequently available.
If you have suffered a vertebral injury, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you to determine whether you were injured as a result of negligence, and whether you should file a legal claim. Your attorney can also help you to put your life back together, and to seek compensation and justice for your injuries.
To speak with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at Passen Law Group regarding a potential case, call us at (312) 527-4500.