Spinal cord injuries require frequent medical care

Tractor-trailer trucks rolling through Tennessee transport everything from holiday packages to salsa. Even when empty, they can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a sedan. Collisions between passenger vehicles at a low speed often result in minor fender benders. Unfortunately, when a wreck involves a semi-truck, the results can be devastating.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that vehicle crashes are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries. The length of stay in an acute care unit averages 11 days, but many people move to a rehabilitation facility from the hospital. During this time, typically a month, physical therapy and counseling help impaired individuals adapt to the new normal. However, about 30% of accident victims are re-hospitalized for almost three weeks each year after the injury.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation reports that there is a broad range of secondary conditions that contribute to additional time in the hospital as well as costly medical expenses.

  • The potential for blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis, increases when the legs cannot move. Excessive bed rest can also raise the risk of DVT. Sequential compression devices, support hose and blood thinners are options that can reduce
  • Pneumonia is a complication that results when fluid builds up in the lungs. This is a common occurrence as many individuals with spinal cord issues cannot exhale or inhale forcefully. Lungs can become infected as a result of bacteria build-up. Consistent clearing of lung secretions can prevent the illness.
  • Low blood pressure, pain, spasticity, bladder and urinary tract infections and pressure sores can also become a problem over time.

Ongoing medical care of individuals with spinal issues is often necessary. Insurance may not always cover the best treatment options nor pay for the required frequency of care. The covered services and out-of-pocket expenses can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with lifetime expenses in the millions.