Older Accident Victims Could Face More Serious Spinal Damage
Spinal cord damage typically causes permanent injuries that can lead to huge medical bills over the course of your life. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the average annual medical costs for a person with spinal cord damage can total between $15,000 and $30,000 each year and the estimated lifetime cost of treating a spinal cord injury can exceed $3 million.
The costs should be covered by the person or company who caused the spinal cord injury to occur, and a Janesville injury lawyer can help victims to pursue a damage claim. The more severe the spinal cord injury, the greater the expenses and the more essential it is to get legal help. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that older accident victims may be more likely to suffer more severe damage to the spine than people who are younger.
Age Can Impact the Severity of Spinal Cord Damage
Laboratory Equipment.com provided a summary of new research on spinal cord injuries that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The researchers compared how the bodies of young mice responded to spinal cord injuries with how the bodies of older mice responded.
For the younger mice, an “IL-4 receptor” responded differently than it did in the older mice. The IL-4 in the nervous systems of both young and old mice recruited additional cells to the injury site by sending certain signals out. However, the younger mice had an inflammatory response that seemed to promote healing while the older mice did not.
The cells recruited to the injury site, macrophages and monocytes, are types of white blood cells that originate in the bone marrow and circulate in the blood outside of the nervous system. However, the cells that were recruited contributed to cleaning debris and healing the wound only in younger mice and not in older ones.
Since aging is normally associated with increasing inflammation it was a surprise to researchers that the younger mice were the only ones that had a helpful inflammatory response after a spinal cord injury. In older mice, they saw reduced levels of some of the inflammatory signals, which impacted the long-term health outcome for the seniors.
Since cells that were recruited to the injury in the younger mice had a more beneficial healing effect, the younger mice did not experience the same level of severity in spinal cord injuries as older mice did. The difference was significant, with older mice suffering lesions at the injury area that were an average of 38 percent larger.
Younger mice were able to regain more movement more often than older mice because of the difference in immune responses. This means older people who are hurt and whose spines are damaged are likely to have much worse long-term prognosis and will be less likely to recover or regain mobility.
Those responsible for the spinal cord injury need to compensate all victims fully for damages and ongoing losses and costs, regardless of the victim’s age. Janesville injury lawyer Steve Caya at Nowlan & Mouat LLP, can assist those with spinal cord injuries to pursue a claim for compensation.
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