The human spine is critical for your brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of your body. Your spinal cord transmits electrical impulses from your brain to your nerves and muscles, allowing you to move and maintain motor control over your body. When the spinal cord gets damaged, it can have a long-term impact on somebody’s overall health, as well as their mobility.
Many people associate spinal cord injuries with car accidents. While it is true that the human body is not built to withstand extremely high impact, damage to the spine can happen in many other ways, as well. Workplace spinal injuries are also relatively common, even among people who do not drive for a living. People can hurt their spines on the job in a number of different ways, all of which can have career-ending consequences for the victim.
Falling from a dangerous height can result in brain injuries, broken bones and spinal cord injuries. People in all kinds of professions may find themselves at risk for a fall. Obviously, those who work at higher elevations, such as construction workers and window washers, have risk for a fall.
However, anyone whose workplace includes a stairway, a balcony or any other open space near a drop-off could experience a serious fall. Falls and vehicle collisions aren’t the only ways that a worker can end up suffering a spinal cord injury on the job.
Machinery can also be a major source of workplace risk. Whether someone gets pinched between a machine and a wall or ends up run down by a malfunctioning work vehicle, the potential for traumatic injury to the spine is there. There are other ways in which workers can suffer spinal injuries as well, but machinery and falls are two of the biggest risk factors.
People with spinal cord injuries can have varying consequences and outcomes related to their condition. Some spinal cord injuries may heal over time. These incomplete spinal cord injuries do not result in the full severing of the spinal cord, but rather create a situation where it gets pinched, cut or otherwise damaged.
In situations where the spinal cord is completely severed, the victim will lose all motor control below the injury site. Surgery, physical therapy and mobility devices can all help somebody with a spinal cord injury regain independence. For some people, independence will not be an option during or after their recovery.
Victims of spinal cord injuries should take immediate steps to report their injury to their employer and seek medical care. In some cases, they may be able to later return to work provided that their employer accommodate the injury. For others, their future may include permanent disability as a result of their injury.