July 4, 2022
personal injury

The devastation caused by back and spine injuries can affect your physical, emotional, and financial health. It also impacts your relationship with family and friends. Aside from losing the ability to perform your favorite activities, you will likely have to pay for costly medical bills and future treatments.

In 2019, 315 people in Alabama suffered spinal cord injuries. Less than one-third of these victims went home from the hospital without needing a rehabilitation center or home health. The estimated lifetime cost of medical care for spinal cord injuries ranges from $1.5 to $4.7 million.

The Vance Law Firm can help you recover damages after a spinal injury caused by another driver’s negligence. The process involves an examination of your medical records to prove the extent of your injury.

Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic images provide proof of the nature and severity of your injuries, but not all tests are appropriate for every situation. The most useful for back and spine injuries include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and myelograms.


X-ray machines use high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to produce images of your body’s internal tissues and structures, such as bones. The radiology technician places you between the source of X-rays and an X-ray detector. The X-rays pass through tissues at different rates, allowing the sensor to form an image.

Spinal X-rays show the position and condition of the vertebrae. A radiologist can examine the spaces between vertebrae to determine the state of the intervertebral discs. Swelling, contusions (bruising), compression, or tears on an X-ray are all signs of a spinal cord injury.

CT Scan

Computerized tomography, sometimes called computed axial tomography (CT or CAT scan), captures a series of s-ray images from different angles and uses computer software to render cross-sectional pictures of the injured area. This test allows the radiologist to search for injuries inside the spinal canal.

CT shows the internal organs, allowing doctors to see injuries and illnesses that don’t show on a standard X-ray. Both X-rays and CTs expose you to a small, safe amount of radiation; however, CT scans provide a more detailed picture of your injuries, specifically of the soft tissues.


Magnetic resonance imaging uses a giant magnet to align protons in the affected area. The machine then sends radio waves through the site, which pull the protons against the magnetic field. When the radio waves end, the protons return to their previous position. The machine measures the movement and energy of the protons and creates a detailed three-dimensional image.

Some people can’t get an MRI due to previous surgeries, including:

  • Plates, rods, screws, pins, or any other orthopedic hardware
  • Cochlear implant
  • Implanted pacemaker
  • Intracranial aneurysm clips
  • Certain prosthetic devices
  • Implanted drug infusion pumps
  • Neurostimulators or bone-growth stimulators
  • Certain intrauterine devices
  • Any other iron-based implant

Getting an MRI with a tattoo made of magnetic ink can be incredibly painful and distort the image.

MRIs can provide doctors with high-level insights into your spinal cord injury. It offers better imaging of the ligaments, spinal cord, vessels, and discs over CT scans and X-rays.


A radiologist performs a myelogram by injecting dye into the spinal canal and using fluoroscopy or real-time X-rays. This test allows the radiologist to evaluate the spinal cord, nerve roots, and the meninges surrounding the spinal cord.

Doctors might use myelograms when you can’t get an MRI.

Physical Tests

Doctors perform many physical tests to diagnose your injury and develop a prognosis and treatment plan. They check your reflexes, ability to feel, and ability to move.


Spinal cord injury immediately suppresses reflex activity below the level of the damage. Over time, this activity might return with an incomplete injury.


Doctors test your ability to feel soft sensations, such as a cotton swab and pinprick sensations, at different levels below the injury. They monitor the loss or gain of feeling over time.

Motor control

Your care team measures your functional motor control, including the strength and ability to move a joint against gravity.

ASIA Impairment Scale

The American Spinal Injury Association developed the ASIA Impairment Scale, or AIS, to replace an older, outdated method of grading spinal cord injuries. Doctors must use the AIS with other tools to develop a solid prognosis for people with spinal injuries. This scale offers doctors a standardized way to document and determine the extent of the damage.

  • A: Complete injury with no motor or sensory function below the injury
  • B: Incomplete injury with no motor function but some sensory function below the injury
  • C: Incomplete injury with some motor and sensory function below the injury, but more than half of key muscles below the injury lack the strength to operate against gravity
  • D: Incomplete injury with some motor and sensory function below the injury, including more than half of critical muscles working against gravity
  • E: Patients with standard motor and sensory function may experience abnormal sensations called dysesthesia.

The sensory portion of the test evaluates 28 specific dermatomes or areas of skin supplied by one spinal nerve. The motor portion grades 5 specific muscle groups in the upper extremities and 5 in the lower extremities, representing major cervical and lumbar myotomes, or muscle groups supplied by one spinal nerve.

How Your Lawyer Can Help

Your personal injury lawyer at The Vance Law Firm can examine your medical records, including all diagnostic procedures performed, and consult with other medical experts to prove the severity of your spinal injury in a personal injury case. These records can help your legal team prove your case, negotiate with the responsible party’s insurance company to get you financial compensation or seek damages in a jury trial.

Contact a Montgomery back and spine injury lawyer with The Vance Law Firm to schedule your free, no-risk consultation today.

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