Out of all the potential devastating injuries you can receive, few can impair movement quite as much as a spinal cord injury. Whether you receive it from a car crash, fall or heavy object hitting your back, it can be difficult to find work or function normally after the initial incident. Thankfully, medical scientists have been developing various methods in the last century to improve a victim’s chances of walking again after a spinal injury. One of the most popular solutions is implanting a spinal cord stimulator and utilizing it in physical therapy.
If the surgery works, then the patient may not need as many painkillers to take before walking or performing various other physical activities as the device uses electrical currents to block pain signals from reaching the brain. However, a recent article by the Associated Press (AP) highlights the downsides of the device by showing how many victims the stimulator failed to work on.
According to AP, spinal cord stimulators have the third highest device injury reports to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In the last decade, there have been nearly 80,000 injury reports filed against the device in the last decade. The most common malfunctions with the invention is the stimulator shocking or burning the victim’s spinal cord nervous system. The article highlights a particular victim from South Carolina who ended up in a worse condition following the implant. The device shocked him enough to prevent him from sleeping and made him fall down a flight of stairs, resulting in him getting in a further paralyzed state.
The article criticizes the FDA for not putting most of these devices through enough testing before they are approved and sent out to hospitals throughout the country. They also highlight the top stimulator manufacturers have come under fire for potentially bribing doctors to promote their products. AP interviewed around 40 patients who had problems with the device, with most of them claiming they did it because their doctors have downplayed past malfunctions and were afraid their physicians would cut off their painkillers.
Hit and miss
AP does not hide the fact that these stimulators were also responsible for saving the lives of thousands of patients. There are plenty of success stories which some doctors believe outweigh the failures. Regardless, many patients and medical professionals that were featured in the article believe that the device itself and the process for getting the device to various clinics requires improvement. Doctors should focus more on helping a victim than promoting a product and should warn a patient about potential risks that could come with the device.
This story demonstrates that there have been many instances of medical malpractice with spinal cord stimulators. If a doctor fails to implant these devices properly, victims could experience extreme pain and potentially worsen their condition. With how much these surgeries cost and how much they will impact the victim’s life; the family should consider preparing legal action against the doctor to financially recover from the ordeal.