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Falls are a real danger after a spinal cord injury

The thought of a spinal cord injury is truly frightening because we all know that it can result in partial or complete paralysis and the inability to walk again. However, most spinal cord injuries -- nearly 70 percent -- are incomplete. That means that the spinal cord hasn't been fully severed. Many victims of incomplete spinal cord injuries can and do walk again with intensive physical therapy and rehabilitation.

However, the process of getting back on one's feet can be a long and arduous one. You may have a reduction in feeling, movement and balance. Therefore, falls can be common. In fact, three-fourths of people who have suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury fall each year. Not only can a serious fall lead to fractures and head injuries, but it can be a setback for the healing process. Even though most falls occur in the home, for people living in Ontario with its cold, icy winters, the possibility of a fall outside is very real as well.

Physical therapists work on teaching people who are relearning to walk after a spinal cord injury to focus on maintaining their stability and balance. This can help keep a stumble or trip from turning into a fall. Another strategy is to actually practise falling in a controlled environment with spotters and safety harnesses to prevent injury. These controlled falls can actually improve a person's stability.

The process of relearning to walk and do the things that most of us take for granted can be a long one after a spinal cord injury. Everyone's timeline for recovery is different. Some people will still always require special accommodations.

If the injury was the result of someone else's actions or negligence, all of these costs will need to be factored in to any settlement that you seek from those at fault. Ontario personal injury lawyers know how to do that. They can help you fight for the compensation that you need as you rebuild your life.

Source: Toronto Star, "Learning to avoid falls is key when rebuilding from spinal cord injury," Kristin Musselman, University of Toronto, Jan. 12, 2016

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