Any spinal cord injury can be devastating. The spinal cord is that part of the neurological system that controls most muscular function. The muscles move as a result of nerve impulses. Those nerve impulses typically emanate in the brain and are passed through the spinal cord to various parts of the body.
Injuries to the spinal cord can be either complete or incomplete. A complete injury means that there is no movement or sensation below that point of injury. An incomplete injury means that there is some function below that level.
Spinal cord injuries can involve a host of different medical specialists. Frequently a neurosurgeon is the one who is hands-on involved in these types of injuries. The neurosurgeon, being a surgeon, is the one who will deal with the injury from an operative point of view. A neurologist is a non-surgical physician who may deal with the problems post-surgery.
In some instances an orthopaedic doctor may be involved in spinal cord injuries because the spinal cord is encased within the spinal column, which is a series of interlocking bones that are designed to protect the spinal cord from injury. Typically any spinal cord injury is also going to involve some orthopaedic or bony injury.
In litigation involving spinal cord injuries there may also frequently be a need for a host of other expert witnesses including a life care planner. A life care planner is a professional person who can project out what the cost of future care is going to be. In addition an economist may be a necessary witness to project out what the future loss of income is.
To some extent these spinal cord in jury experts are interdependent. The most important of these experts typically is the medical provider i.e., either the neurosurgeon or neurologist who will express an opinion first as to the extent of disability. Based upon that extent of disability, the life care planner can then project out certain costs. It is also based upon that extent of disability that the economist premises his/her opinions.
In putting together a case involving a significant spinal cord injury, it is important to recognize this interdependence and to recognize the priority of the health care providers in laying the foundation for expert testimony from many of the other experts.