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January 15, 2024

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a tragically common consequence of several different types of incidents in Rhode Island and throughout the country. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are approximately 17,000 new cases each year. Some of these will result in temporary limitations and discomfort. Others will cause permanent and irreversible damage. Regardless of the long-term prognosis, however, when an SCI results from someone else’s negligence or behavior, victims have every right to seek compensation for all related damages.

At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, we understand the profound impact SCIs can have on individuals and their families. Our Rhode Island spinal cord injury lawyers are dedicated to advocating for those affected, ensuring they receive the support and compensation they deserve.

If you or someone you love has suffered an SCI in Providence or a surrounding area of Rhode Island, Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell is here to help. Call us at (401) 273-8330 today to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our spinal cord injury attorneys and learn how we can help you seek the justice you are due.

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Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

There are two primary types of Spinal cord injury: complete, where all sensation and movements are inhibited, and incomplete, where some movement and sensations are retained. The signs and symptoms of SCI depend entirely on where the spine was impacted and whether the injury is complete or incomplete.

Depending on the severity of your spinal cord injury, symptoms may include:

  • Loss of Sensation. This includes an inability to feel heat, cold, and touch. The severity can vary, ranging from complete numbness to slightly diminished sensation.
  • Loss of Movement. Depending on the injury’s location, movement impairment can affect different body parts. An injury to the cervical region, for example, may lead to quadriplegia. Whereas an injury to the thoracic or lumbar region may result in paraplegia, affecting the trunk and legs.
  • Loss of Bowel or Bladder Control. These functions can be disrupted due to impaired nerve signals between the spinal cord and the bladder or bowel muscles.
  • Pain or Stinging Sensation. This occurs due to nerve fiber damage in the spinal cord, leading to intense stinging sensations or chronic pain.
  • Difficulty Breathing or Coughing. High cervical injuries may impair the muscles that control breathing, necessitating respiratory support in severe cases.
  • Difficulty with Balance and Coordination. Damage to the spinal cord can affect balance and coordination, making it difficult to perform everyday activities.
  • Numbness or Tingling. Often experienced in the extremities, this can be a sign of nerve damage or compression in the spinal cord.
  • Spasms and Increased Reflex Activities. Uncontrolled reflexes and muscle spasms can occur due to the disruption of signals from the brain to the spinal cord.
  • Changes in Sexual Function and Sensitivity. SCI can impact sexual health, including changes in sexual function, sensitivity, and fertility.
  • Altered Sweat and Temperature Regulation. The body’s ability to regulate temperature and sweat production can be affected by SCI, leading to a higher risk of overheating or developing hypothermia. Known as thermodysregulation, this condition can be fatal.

If you are experiencing complications following a spinal cord injury, we encourage you to reach out for a case review right away. During this cost- and obligation-free consultation, we can listen to your concerns, discuss your legal options, and help you determine the best way to move forward.

Leading Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

There are numerous causes of spinal cord injury. However, some activities and accidents increase the risk of suffering an SCI. Among the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in Rhode Island are:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury in younger individuals. These accidents can range from car crashes to motorcycle and bicycle incidents, often resulting in severe trauma to the spinal cord due to the force of impact.


Falls are the leading cause of SCI among people over 65, but younger children are susceptible as well. Because children and the elderly tend to be more fragile, they often suffer serious spinal cord damage from falls that would be mostly inconsequential to other age groups.

Violence or Assault

Victims of violence and assault, particularly gunshot wounds, are at high risk for spinal cord injury. According to the most recent statistics from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), over 15% of SCIs are a result of violence or assault.

Sports and Recreation

Athletic activities, especially contact sports like football, rugby, and extreme sports, contribute to just under 10% of spinal cord injuries sustained in the United States yearly. Many of the victims of these accidents are youths engaged in school and extracurricular sports.

Workplace Accidents

Employees in certain occupations, such as construction and similarly physically demanding industries, are at a higher risk for spinal cord injuries. These are often the result of falls from ladders or scaffolding and accidents involving heavy machinery, though even seemingly minor workplace accidents can result in SCI.

Medical or Surgical Complications

The NSCISC reports that almost 4% of SCIs are sustained during surgery or as a result of medical procedures. This is especially common with procedures involving the spine or neck, but can also result from hospital infections and various types of medical malpractice.

Some of the causes of spinal cord injury, such as disease, are not compensable through legal action. However, SCIs that result from someone else’s behavior are. Our Rhode Island SCI attorneys can investigate your claim to identify the cause of your injury and help you determine the most effective way to seek the compensation you will need to deal with its immediate and long-term impacts.

Hidden and Additional Costs of Spinal Cord Injury

SCI survivors often face hidden costs such as travel and accommodation for treatment, and high prices for necessities at medical facilities. Additional costs not included in the above averages include:

  • In-Home Care, Equipment, and Modifications. Many individuals with SCI require long-term care, including assistance from live-in nurses, and rely on costly mobility equipment like wheelchairs. They may also need to invest in home modifications such as lifts, special beds, and accessible showers.
  • Lost Wages and Earning Potential. Employment rates drop significantly following a spinal cord injury. Only about 18% of people with an SCI are employed one year after the injury, and this figure rises to just below 30% at 20 years post-injury. The loss of earning potential is a major financial impact for SCI survivors.

The Rhode Island spinal cord injury lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell are deeply aware of the financial challenges posed by SCI. Our lawyers are dedicated to supporting our clients through every stage of this process, helping them secure the compensation needed to manage the significant financial burden that comes with this life-changing injury.

Which Costs Can I Recoup After a Spinal Cord Injury?

When looking at compensation for spinal cord injury, several factors must be taken into account. Certainly, the lifetime economic costs will factor into damages, but so too must things like forced changes to lifestyle, loss of enjoyment, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. The experienced spinal cord injury attorneys at our Providence office thoroughly review each claim to establish its true value based on factors including:

  • Immediate and long-term medical expenses
  • Home modifications and assistive technologies
  • Travel and lodging expenses associated with treatment
  • Current and future lost wages
  • Loss of ability
  • Emotional distress
  • Lasting psychological impact
  • And more

Contact Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell Today for a FREE Consultation

To schedule your FREE consultation, please contact Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell online or by calling our Providence office today. If your injury makes travel difficult, we will come to you to discuss your options and your rights. We proudly serve individuals and families dealing with the aftermath of spinal cord injury in Woonsocket, Cumberland, Newport, Bristol, and throughout the state of Rhode Island.