There are many ways that a worker could damage their spinal cord on the job. They could get into a car crash if transportation responsibilities are part of their daily work. They could wind up hurt by a piece of heavy machinery, struck by equipment or even injured in a fall.
If there is any plus side to hurting your spine on the job, it is arguably that workers’ compensation offers you better protection against your losses than health insurance or car insurance would provide.
Workers’ compensation offers 100% coverage for necessary medical care. You could also apply for disability benefits during your recovery period if you can’t work while you heal. Will your spinal cord injury ever get better, or will you have to deal with the limitations it causes for life?
Some spinal cord injuries will eventually heal
Doctors typically classify spinal cord injuries based on their location on the spine. However, they also classify the injury based on whether it is complete or incomplete.
A complete injury fully severs the spinal cord, while an incomplete injury may involve a tear, pinch or other damage that does not cut the spinal cord fully. Complete spinal cord injuries have no known cure. Patients will likely require surgery and physical therapy, but will never regain motor function or nerve sensation below the site of the injury.
Those with incomplete spinal cord injuries may recover function and sensation. Their prognosis depends on many factors, ranging from the care that they receive to underlying medical conditions.
Spinal cord injuries likely mean long-term work consequences
After you suffer a spinal cord injury, you can ask your employer for accommodations. When you are healthy and your injury is stable enough for you to return to work, your company should help. Whether they need to add a wheelchair ramp or a more accessible bathroom stall, you have the right to ask them for those accommodations.
Sadly, even assistive technology and more accessible facilities can’t help everyone get back on the job. Some people won’t be able to go back to the same job and may require job retraining. Others may not be able to work at all and will need permanent disability benefits after a spinal cord injury.
Understanding the benefits available and your prognosis will help you handle a workers’ compensation claim after a catastrophic injury.