The Devastating Impacts of Spinal Cord Injuries in Tennessee

Spinal cord injuries can have devastating and life-altering impacts on those affected and their families. Recent data indicates that around 17,000 United States Citizens experience a spinal cord injury each year, with just over 290,000 people currently living with the condition. This article will examine the main causes of spinal cord injuries in Tennessee, their impact on quality of life, and options for support and legal assistance.

Leading Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Tennessee

The two leading causes of spinal cord injuries in Tennessee are motor vehicle crashes and falls.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, motor vehicle crashes account for nearly 36% of spinal cord injuries among Tennesseans. Contributing factors include distracted driving, driving under the influence, reckless driving, and poor road conditions. Rural roads are particularly hazardous due to wildlife, sharp turns, and lack of dividers.


The second most common cause of spinal cord injuries in Tennessee is falls. Over 30% of injuries are attributed to falls from heights, ladders, or stairs. Falls often occur during risky home repair projects, at construction sites, or due to poor premises maintenance. Older adults are especially at risk due to reduced mobility and strength.

Life-Changing Impacts of Spinal Cord Injuries

The impacts of spinal cord injuries vary based on the location and severity of damage but often bring devastating life changes. Common effects include:

Paralysis below the point of injury – This may involve complete or partial loss of movement and sensation. Paraplegia refers to paralysis of the legs and lower body. Tetraplegia involves paralysis in both arms and legs.

Loss of bladder/bowel control – Most spinal cord injury patients lose the ability to control the bladder and bowels voluntarily. This requires self-catheterization and special toileting routines and can increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

Sexual dysfunction – Spinal cord injuries often impair sexual function and sensation due to nerve damage. Issues include erectile dysfunction, inability to orgasm, and reduced fertility.

Chronic pain – Spinal cord injury patients frequently develop nerve-related chronic pain such as neuropathic pain, spasticity, and muscle spasms. Pain is a daily challenge.

Pressure sores – Paralysis leads to skin breakdown and dangerous pressure sores. Patients must constantly shift positions or use special cushions to prevent sores.

Respiratory issues – High injuries affecting the thoracic vertebrae can impair breathing and coughing. Patients may require ventilators or be at risk for respiratory infections.

Depression – Coping with drastic life changes from a spinal cord injury often leads to grief, anger, and long-term depression. The suicide rate for those with spinal cord injuries is significantly higher than the general population.

Reduced life expectancy – Though improvements in care have increased life expectancy, spinal cord injuries do reduce overall lifespan on average due to related health complications. The level and completeness of injury greatly impact longevity.

Clearly, spinal cord injuries massively reduce the quality of life for patients and require major adjustments physically, emotionally, financially, and socially. Support is critical.

Navigating Life After Spinal Cord Injury in Tennessee

Recovering from and adjusting to life after a spinal cord injury in Tennessee presents huge challenges, but resources are available to help.

In-Patient Rehab

Immediately after a spinal cord injury, patients need stabilization and intensive in-patient rehabilitation. Tennessee has nine SCI Model System facilities experienced in this critical specialty rehab care. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Regional One Health, and the University of Tennessee Medical Center are top-ranked.

Home & Accessibility Modifications

Creating an accessible home environment is key for increasing independence after spinal cord injury. This may require installing ramps, widening doorways, moving electrical controls, and modifying bathrooms and kitchens. Tennessee has state/federal grant programs that can help pay for home modifications.

Assistive Technology & Equipment

Mobility aids like wheelchairs, walkers, standing frames, and transfer lifts can help maximize independence. Other assistive technology includes adapted vehicles, environmental control systems, and computer access tools. Tennessee Assistive Technology Centers offer device demos, loans, and low-cost sales.

Peer Mentorship & Support Groups

Talking with those who have experience overcoming similar spinal cord injury challenges can provide invaluable emotional support and practical advice. Peer mentoring programs and spinal cord injury support groups are available through spinal cord injury rehab centers, nonprofit groups, and even online.

Special Education Services

For those spinal cord injuries that occur at a young age, Tennessee schools provide rehab, assistive technology, accessible transportation, therapy, and tailored education plans to ensure students reach their academic potential.

Employment Support

Returning to work and financial independence after a spinal cord injury is a common goal but poses difficulties. Vocational rehab programs help with skills retraining, workplace accommodations, job placement services, and applying for disability benefits.

Legal Help

Those paralyzed by spinal cord injuries in Tennessee often face huge medical bills along with reduced earning capacity. In cases where injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, victims have the right to pursue injury compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can help recover damages to cover both economic losses and non-economic suffering.

Seek Support to Maximize Quality of Life

Spinal cord injuries lead to paralysis, reduced mobility, chronic health issues, and lowered life expectancy. With involvement in peer support, occupational therapy, accessibility modifications, and assistive technology, Tennesseans paralyzed by spinal cord injuries can still find purpose and enjoyment in life. Those struggling with medical bills and lost wages should consult with a personal injury lawyer about their legal right to seek compensation. Though spinal cord injuries irrevocably change lives, with proper support, permanent paralysis does not have to mean a devastating reduction in quality of life.

If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury that was caused by negligence on the part of a third party, contact us today. We have 32 offices in 19 states, including Tennessee, South Carolina, and Washington, or you can call us for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597. Don’t suffer alone when you could be entitled to compensation.