Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are one of the most severe disabilities that a person can experience. This type of injury can instantly change an individual’s life, leaving them with physical, emotional, and financial challenges that can be difficult to manage.
Fortunately, individuals living with an SCI have access to resources that can help them cope with the changes in their life. The Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center (FSCIRC) is one of those resources. This article will guide you toward helpful programs and organizations, like the FSCIRC, that can assist you during difficult times. This article will also show you why it is important to seek reliable legal counsel when dealing with life-changing events.
In Hollywood, FL, you may consult with a personal injury attorney from the Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A., if you have suffered an accident resulting from a spinal cord injury. Your lawyer can also assist you in navigating the resources available to you, such as FSCIRC.
What is the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center?
FSCIRC is a free service provided by the Florida Department of Health. It aims to provide SCI survivors with support and information about resources to help them live as independently as possible. Physically located in the Tampa General Rehabilitation Center, FSCIRC provides counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, recreational services, assistive technology training, and other services. The Resource Center also offers a variety of educational materials on SCIs, including books and videos.
In addition to the physical location in Tampa, FSCIRC also provides resources and support via its website. The website contains information about SCI-related legal rights and advocacy groups, medical care providers, educational opportunities, vocational services, and more. There is also an online discussion board where individuals can ask questions and share their experiences.
Whether you live in Florida or elsewhere, FSCIRC is a valuable resource for those living with an SCI. Take advantage of the information and resources they provide to help make your life as independent and comfortable as possible.
Prevalence of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the Florida Department of Health’s records, spinal cord injuries are more common in the state than many would think. From 2016 to 2020, 1,589 cases were reported – with 209 involving both brain and spine traumas. It is crucial to be aware that this type of injury could occur at any time and should not be taken lightly.
Additionally, the recent 2021 SCI data sheet released by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) revealed that approximately 17,900 new cases of spinal cord injury occur each year in the United States out of a total population of an estimated 331 million – this equates to 54 cases per one million people.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are not as common as a sprained ankle or a small head bump; however, the effects can be life-altering when they occur. Common causes of SCIs include the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents (38.2%): This includes anything from cars, motorcycles, and buses to ATVs and boats.
- Falls (32.3%): Slip-and-fall incidents or falls from heights are among the leading causes of SCIs.
- Acts of violence (14.3%): Physical abuse, assaults, and gunshot wounds can also cause a spinal cord injury.
- Sports-related activities (7.8%): Athletic activities such as football, rugby, mountain biking, lifting, and more can potentially result in severe spinal cord injuries if proper safety precautions are not taken.
- Medical or surgical complications (4.1%): Issues such as anesthesia, spinal surgeries, and diseases like cancer can increase the risk for spinal cord injuries.
- Other causes (3.3%): This includes cases due to birth trauma or environmental factors, such as electric shock or heavy metal exposure.
Spinal Cord Injury Complications
A spinal cord injury survivor may often face various complications and health concerns ranging from severe to mild. Complications often vary widely depending on the severity of the spinal cord damage.
- Loss of mobility: This could include paralysis of the limbs and difficulty maintaining balance and standing.
- Autonomic dysreflexia: When the autonomic nervous system has difficulty adjusting to a stimulus, it results in sudden drops or increases in blood pressure.
- Respiratory complications: SCIs can also cause respiratory complications, such as difficulty breathing or abnormal chest expansion.
- Bowel and bladder dysfunction: Difficulty controlling bladder function is a common complication for those with paraplegia or quadriplegia.
- Spasticity: Muscle spasms can be unpredictable and painful, and can interfere with day-to-day activities. This is when muscles become abnormally contracted and stiff, resulting in difficulty moving the affected area.
- Traumatic brain injuries: SCI can also cause a traumatic brain injury due to the force of impact, leading to various cognitive and physical impairments. Cognitive impairment includes problems such as a decreased ability to concentrate or difficulty remembering things. While physical or musculoskeletal impairments include muscle weakness and deformity.
- Impairment in organ function and sensory deficit: Damage to the spinal cord can lead to a disruption of organ function, as well as a decrease, or even loss of sensation in certain parts of the body.
- Pressure ulcers: Skin sores caused by long-term pressure on the skin are a common complication of SCI.
- Depression and anxiety: SCI’s physical and emotional effects can lead to psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Infection: A person with SCI is at risk for infection due to their weakened immune system and decreased sensation in certain body parts.
- Nutritional issues: A spinal injury can also cause issues with nutrition, such as difficulty swallowing and reduced appetite.
- Cardiovascular disease: Damage to the spinal cord can impair blood flow, leading to a higher risk for stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Bone health issues: Osteoporosis and other bone-related problems are common complications due to a lack of movement and muscle activity.
- Loss of independence: Many SCI survivors have difficulty with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, eating, etc., leading to a loss of independence.
These are just some of the possible complications of spinal cord injuries. It is important to understand that each person’s experience with SCI is unique, and it is essential to seek medical attention if you or someone you know has suffered from SCI. With the right resources and support, people with a spinal cord injury can still lead meaningful lives.
What should spinal cord injury survivors do?
Living with SCI can be difficult, but building a fulfilling life is entirely achievable when you have access to the proper support and resources. Here are some tips for SCI survivors:
- Seek medical help: Getting professional medical advice as soon as possible after an injury is essential to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Participate in rehabilitation: Rehabilitation can help improve movement, skills, and quality of life after an SCI.
- Connect with a support group: A support group can provide emotional support and connect you with resources that may help with recovery.
- Advocate for yourself: Learning about your rights and advocating for yourself can help ensure access to your needed services.
- Make time for leisure activities: Participating in hobbies or leisure activities can help with stress management and overall well-being.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical health. This includes activities such as meditation, journaling, or simply taking some time to relax.
- Seek professional counseling: If needed, seek professional help from a counselor or therapist who can help you manage the psychological effects of SCI.
- Reach out for help: Never be afraid to seek assistance from your family and friends. More importantly, the Florida Department of Health and Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center provides services and several resources for anyone suffering from SCI. You may also reach out to other organizations that provide an all-encompassing spinal cord injury program to help you take charge of your life again.
The Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center
Florida’s commitment to helping those with SCI is demonstrated through the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center. It is now known as the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program (BSCIP) Resource Center.
As a comprehensive source of SCI-related material, this statewide clearinghouse serves as an essential resource for survivors and their loved ones, healthcare providers, support organizations, reporters, and the public at large. The BSCIP Resource Center offers multiple services to help those with SCI in Florida. These services include:
- Case management and care coordination: This provides personalized assistance to survivors and their families, offering invaluable support on how to understand, access, and use essential services.
- Acute care: These services are intended for individuals with SCIs who are experiencing a sudden decline in health or other medical issues related to their injury.
- Comprehensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services: Rehabilitation services can help individuals with SCIs adjust to their new lifestyle. Services may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological counseling. These services can help individuals build strength and independence as they relearn skills that have been lost due to their injury.
- Psychological evaluations: This includes individualized counseling and assessments to help individuals cope with the psychological effects of SCI.
- Diagnostics: This includes access to diagnostic tools and equipment to help identify areas of strength and weakness in individuals with SCIs.
- Medications and medical supplies: This includes access to medications and medical supplies that can help manage symptoms associated with SCI.
- Assistive technology and home modifications: These can help individuals with SCIs perform tasks that may otherwise be difficult or impossible due to their injury. Examples of these include voice-activated technology, wheelchairs with power assistance, ramps, lift systems, smart home systems, and other modifications that allow survivors to control their environment and live independently.
- Long-term support: By signing numerous contracts with local agencies, the BSCIP Resource Center offers psychological and social support to survivors and families facing SCI-related difficulties. Additionally, they provide financial assistance for those in need of additional aid.
- Advocacy: The BSCIP advocates for the rights of those living with an SCI and educates healthcare providers, employers, and other stakeholders about SCI resources and services.
- BSCIP Central Registry: In Florida, this is where all referrals for individuals who have suffered a traumatic moderate-to-severe brain or spinal cord injury are directed to. Within 10 working days, a BSCIP Case Manager will reach out and provide the necessary services and support amenities to ensure your safety within the community – as long as you meet their eligibility criteria.The BSCIP Program relies on public funds generated by fines amassed from speeding, driving under the influence charges, and additional fees on temporary license plates to provide crucial care and rehabilitation services for those financially unable to access adequate resources.
Other Resources for SCI Survivors
Getting all the help after a brain and spinal cord injury is necessary. Fortunately, there are so many organizations out there that you can reach for additional help and assistance.
United Spinal Association
The United Spinal Association (USA) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders. USA provides free resources such as education, advocacy, and support services to individuals living with SCI. The organization also hosts multiple events throughout the year that promote SCI awareness and access to resources.
Brain Injury Association of Florida
The Brain Injury Association of Florida, Inc. (BIAF) is a valuable source for survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their loved ones. With access to information on agencies, resources, and individuals who provide support, BIAF provides an array of essential guides that can help TBI victims cope with the difficulties arising from such incidents.
Sports Ability Alliance
Formerly known as Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA). The Sports Ability Alliance is a statewide organization that provides recreational opportunities and adaptive sports programs for those living with disabilities. They offer a variety of activities, such as cycling, archery, bowling, fishing, golf, and more.
Community Reintegration for SCI survivors
Community reintegration for SCI survivors is an integral part of the recovery process. It involves helping individuals with SCIs learn how to live independently, find meaningful employment, and connect with their communities. To make a successful transition back into society, individuals living with SCIs can access an array of helpful resources, including:
- Independent Living Centers (ILCs): ILCs provide resources and services that help individuals with SCIs transition back into their communities. They offer job training, peer support groups, education programs, housing assistance, and other support services.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Vocational rehabilitation programs assist those with disabilities who are seeking employment or training. These programs offer job placement, training services, and financial assistance for those who qualify.
- Transitional living services: Community-based programs are often available to help individuals with SCIs transition back into the community. These programs provide access to health care, education, housing, employment opportunities, and social activities that can help individuals adjust to living independently.
- Adaptive sports programs: Adaptive sports programs provide opportunities for individuals with SCIs to participate in recreational activities, such as skiing and wheelchair basketball. These programs are a great way to stay physically active while connecting with others with similar experiences.
- Support groups: Support groups can be an excellent way for individuals with SCIs to connect with others who have similar experiences and provide each other with emotional support. These groups can also provide information about resources, services, and activities to help individuals adjust to living with an SCI.
- Therapeutic recreation: Therapeutic recreation activities can help individuals with SCIs develop new skills, form relationships, and increase their self-esteem. These activities can include art therapy, music therapy, adaptive sports programs, and leisure education.
When do I need to contact a lawyer?
Seeking legal counsel for those who have suffered an SCI due to someone else’s negligence is also an integral part of the recovery process. The statute of limitations in Florida renders it essential to enlist the services of an attorney promptly to ensure they can collect evidence quickly and effectively construct a legal case to help you achieve justice.
With time being so critical when pursuing your right to compensation, gathering all necessary information without delay is invaluable. Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers will provide free consultation services so they can determine if there are grounds to file a suit based on the details of your incident.
Contact the Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, Accident Attorney, today for a free case evaluation. Jared’s team of dedicated legal professionals in Hollywood, FL, has the experience and resources necessary to handle your case.
The Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center and other organizations provide vital assistance to those suffering from a spinal cord injury. While these organizations can provide a lot of support, it is also important to remember that legal resources are essential when dealing with a traumatic event like this.
With the right advice and representation, you’ll have the opportunity to recover any losses incurred due to your injury. From finding the right support group to pursuing financial compensation, seeking counsel is key. Don’t suffer in silence; get back to your life with help from Jared Spingarn’s law offices in Hollywood, Florida.
If you’re involved in an accident in Florida that resulted in a spinal cord injury, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jared Spingarn, Accident Attorney, at 1-954-781-2316 for a Free Case Review or drop a message on their Contact Us page.