Shaked Surgical Series Part 2: Spinal Cord Stimulators Provide Pain Relief, But What’s the Cost?
Spinal cord injuries as a result of an accident damage the delicate central nervous system. The central nervous system is found deep within the spinal canal and can suffer catastrophic consequences when vertebrae, spinal cord, or disks sustain injury during trauma such as car and motorcycle accidents. The spinal cord’s function is to allow every system in the body to function in perfect harmony.
The spinal cord carries nerve signals between the brain and the rest of the body, regulating breathing, taste, talking, memory, sight and more. These signals also have control of bodily sensation (hot, cold, sense of touch), the ability to walk, run, jump, and simply to move whenever we choose to. When an accident affects the back and spine and the resulting pain inhibits the victim from experiencing any quality of life, doctors are now looking to spinal cord stimulation. This form of pain relief is achieved through a surgeon’s use of a Spinal Cord Stimulator (“SCS”).
In Part 1 of the Shaked Surgical Series we looked at herniated disks, delayed recovery, and and CRPS. Now, in Part 2 in the Shaked Surgical Series will focus solely on, and delve deeper into the use of Spinal Cord Stimulators and their effectiveness in restoring quality of life to victims of accidents that have sustained catastrophic back and spine injuries, leaving them in chronic, severe pain. We’ll also touch briefly on the cost of these devices and how medical expenses play a large role in patients acquiring pain relief as quickly as possible.
Pain relief in sight
After an accident that affects the back and spine, the pain that accompanies such injuries can be considered some of the worst imaginable. For those of us who have never experienced such pain, we can give thanks. For those who continue to suffer daily after becoming injured in a life-altering accident, there continues to be advances in medical care that can provide adequate pain relief. Namely, this form of pain relief comes in the form of a Spinal Cord Stimulator. As previously mentioned, doctors are beginning to achieve adequate pain relief for patients with back and spine injuries by surgically implanting Spinal Cord Stimulators just under the patient’s skin.
Patients hear “surgery” and it’s normal to feel anxiety or have mounting questions about what, exactly, surgery can do to provide relief of pain. Mayfield Clinic, experts in the field of Spinal Cord Stimulation and the accompanying surgical procedure explain the device:
“[…]A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) device is surgically placed under your skin and sends a mild electric current to your spinal cord. A small wire carries the current from a pulse generator to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. When turned on, the SCS stimulates the nerves in the area where your pain is felt.”
While Mayfield goes on to further stress that Stimulation does not eliminate the source of the pain (the original injury sustained in an accident, for example) it simply but expertly interferes with signals sent to the brain meant to intercept these signals before pain can be felt, thus leaving a chance for quality of life to be restored.
However, because every injury and every person who becomes injured is different, no patient will receive the exact same amount of pain relief and recovery may take longer or shorter depending on the source of the pain and the injuries sustained. It’s for this reason that a neurology team of experienced physicians will test temporary stimulation in the affected area before permanent implantation surgery.
Care is costly, peace of mind priceless
When the spinal cord becomes injured from due to an impact in that region (e.g. a motorcycle accident, car accident, or a fall) this can be considered trauma, or a catastrophic injury. Violent acts such as a victim suffering a blow to the spine from a gunshot during an assault, or a sports-related injury to the spine such as blunt force football tackles are all common ways spinal cord injuries can occur. All of these injuries are considered severe and must be given proper medical attention at once; paralysis can be a devastating result if intervention is not acquired immediately after an accident that causes trauma to the spine. Aside from medical intervention, when the patient is stabilized, the family should then turn their focus to acquiring expert legal advice.
The insurance companies are loath to admit the necessity, but victims of back and spinal cord injuries need lifetime care to restore quality of life, reduce severe pain, and get them back on their feet (or mobile again with the use of a motorized wheelchair, if paralysis has occurred and cannot be reversed). This type of care is costly, and insurance companies are known to refuse victims their rightful compensation after an accident.
An experienced lawyer knows the kind of games insurance companies play and will do everything in their power to provide justice for their injured client and restore their peace of mind. Having an experienced lawyer on a patient’s team of medical and mental health experts will ease the stress and anxiety that accompanies the mounting medical bills and inability to live life to the fullest.
Patients have rights. Below, we’ve provided multiple resources for those affected by back, neck, and spinal cord injuries and their families with further interest:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act: Also known by it’s three letter nickname the “ADA”. This law protects the disabled and was enacted by congress back in 1990. The most recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act were enacted January 1, 2009 by President Barack Obama.
- The Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury: “FSCIPCC” is a non-profit educational foundation for the care as well as the prevention of neck and spinal cord injuries. This foundation primarily raises their funds through awareness actions, educational conferences, and uses the raised funds to further research in the area of neck and spinal cord injuries.
- The CDC: This website provides unbiased facts that the insurance companies hope victims who have been injured will just overlook. The CDC regularly updates the statistics on catastrophic injuries to reflect the most recent data available to the public.
Compassion for clients
Being able to maintain any quality of life post-accident sees victims going into financial ruin attempting to acquire pain relief as well as adaptive devices (wheelchairs, walkers, at-home disabled access) to allow them to once again participate in life.
While senior lawyers know that no dollar amount can be placed on the pain and suffering experienced by their client, they realize that nonetheless their client deserves a settlement or verdict to be awarded that covers not only their lifetime medical care, but the expenses that will inevitably occur living with a catastrophic injury for the rest of their life.