College Gymnast Dies After Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury

In the event an injury occurs on the property of a business and due to the fault of the owner or operator, questions can be raised as to how the injury occurred. One college student paid the ultimate price after sustaining a major injury at her place of employment.

20-year old Southern Connecticut State University student-athlete Melanie Coleman passed away recently after suffering a spinal cord injury. The injury occurred at Hamden gym where she worked and was training. She was pursuing a nursing degree while participating on the university’s gymnastics team, serving as team captain and as one the program’s most valuable competitors.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are very serious and can result in paralysis or even death. These injuries damage the spine and/or nerves and usually cause permanent changes in strength, movement, sensation, and other functions. In many instances, the effects of a spinal cord injury are permanent and change the patient’s life forever. The common effects of an injury to the spinal cord are:

  • Breathing: An injury to the spinal cord can stop or impair breathing. Those who suffer from these injuries will likely need to be placed on a ventilator.
  • Irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure: Spinal cord injuries in the cervical region often result in unstable blood pressure and heart arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.
  • Blood clots: Those who experience spinal cord injuries are at an increased risk for blood clots.
  • Spasms: Whenever the spinal cord is damaged, physical actions can become erratic and spastic.
  • Autonomic dysreflexia: When the spine or back is injured, a life-threatening reflex can often appear called autonomic dysreflexia. This occurs when the affected region tries to send a signal to the brain but cannot, and so a reflex occurs without regulation. This can cause increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, strokes, seizures, and even death.
  • Pain: Nerve damage in the spinal cord can cause neurogenic pain; and, overuse of certain muscles to compensate for the SCI can generate muscular pain.
  • Bladder and bowel problems: Most spinal cord injuries affect bladder and bowel function because the nerves that control those organs are at the base of the cord. Many spinal injury victims need a catheter to control bladder function and prevent infections.
  • Reproductive and sexual function: Spinal injury has a greater impact on sexual and reproductive function in men than it does in women. Most women still have the ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy. Most men, however, will have issues with fertility and erectile dysfunction.

If one survives a spinal cord injury, they are likely to suffer paralysis, which will affect them physically, mentally, and socially for the rest of their lives.

Classifications of Paralysis

  • Monoplegia: paralysis of a single area of the body
  • Hemiplegia: affects both an arm and leg on one side of the body
  • Paraplegia: paralysis below the waist, affecting the legs, hips, and lower body functions
  • Quadriplegia or tetraplegia: paralysis from the neck down

Premises Liability and Wrongful Death

Unfortunately, personal injury and wrongful death resulting from premises liability issues often happen due to the negligence of a business owner or other responsible third party. Property owners, managers, and other occupants can have certain duties with regard to providing a reasonably safe environment for those who visit or live on the premises. In the event a safety hazard or dangerous situation arises, owners must provide warning signs for unsuspecting parties until the hazard is repaired or remedied. If a property owner has knowledge of an adverse condition and ignores it, he or she can be held liable if a person is injured or killed as a result.

Houston Personal Injury Attorneys

When a loved one is injured or killed due to the negligence of another, it can cause unforeseen mental and financial anguish to those involved. At Dax F. Garza, P.C. our team of experienced personal injury attorneys knows the difficulties involved with serious, life-altering injuries. We reclaim losses and obtain compensation when the injured need it most. Contact us today to discuss your claim in a free, confidential consultation.

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