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Medical Dictionary.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X

A

Abdominal Pain — Type of discomfort felt in or around the abdomen and within the abdominal cavity. The seat belt or steering wheel may cause this after a car accident.

Abduction – Lateral movement of a limb away from the median plane or midline of the body. An injury from a car accident could make movement in the limbs painful.

Abrasion – Superficial damage to the skin (i.e. a cut or scrap). Motorcycle accidents often cause severe abrasions known as a personal injury called “road rash.”

Acceleration – Injury to the neck area commonly caused by hyperextension or hyperflexion of the neck. This injury is usually caused by rear end auto accidents.

Acetaminophen – Painkiller medication that relieves pain by elevating your pain threshold. Commonly used to treat headaches and muscle pains.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) — The syndrome of opportunistic infections that occur as the final stage of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which does not allow a patient to develop antibodies to protect your body from infection. This disease is passed through blood transfusions, which may be necessary after suffering a major injury.

Activities of Daily Living — A person’s normal activities in everyday life such as grooming one’s self, maintaining one’s home, eating, working, and participating in recreational activities. Injured persons cannot complete most of their normal activities after paralysis from a spinal cord injury.

Acuity – The sharpness or quality of a sensation. After a motorcycle or auto accident, injured persons may lose feeling in the part of their body that is injured as a result of nerve damage.

Acupressure – A traditional Chinese form of medicine where physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points for the purpose of relieving pain. Its techniques are derived from acupuncture. Acupressure can be used to help treat whiplash symptoms or other back, neck or shoulder injuries.

Acupuncture – A traditional Chinese form of medicine where needles are inserted and manipulated into points on the body for the purpose of relieving pain. Can again be used to treat whiplash after a car accident.

Acute – The rapid onset of an injury or other medical condition. This is also a short course of an injury or other medical condition, as opposed to chronic. Whiplash can be an acute injury.

Adduction — Lateral movement of a limb toward the median plane or midline of the body. Can again be an injury from a car accident that could reduce adduction or make movement painful.

Adhesion – Scar tissue and other fibrosis tissue that form between other tissue and organs, often a result of surgery. This is also known as “internal scar tissue,” natural part of the body’s healing process.

Adjustment – Chiropractic and osteopathic term meaning the therapeutic manipulation of the spine with the intent of aligning the vertebrae, as well as the therapeutic application of force to specific joints and tissue. This form of treatment can help with the healing process of spinal cord injuries, as well as neck injuries.

Adson’s Test – Used to evaluate thoracic outlet syndrome. This test involves having a person in a sitting position with his or her head turned to one side with the arm on the same side extended straight out and slightly to the back. The person takes a deep breath. When the test is positive for thoracic outlet syndrome, the person experiences a loss or decrease in the radial or wrist pulse.

Amnesia – Loss of memory. Can be caused by traumatic brain injuries in automobile accidents.

Analgesia – Painkiller. This is a form of anesthetic, which blocks the conscious sensation of pain. Used to treat the pain for injuries.

Anesthesia – A medication that blocks pain and other sensations. This may vary from mild sedation to a drug induced loss of consciousness. Often used for surgery.

Aneurysm – A localized bulging or ballooning of the wall of a blood vessel caused by a weakening of the blood vessel wall, usually at the base of the brain or in the aorta. When it bursts, it can cause wrongful death.

Ankle – The hinge joint between the foot and the leg that acts as an articulation of the tibia, fibula, and talus. Leg functions can be reduced if it is injured in car accident.

Anosmia – Loss of the sense of smell. Nose or traumatic brain injury can cause this condition.

Anterior – The front side. The opposite of “posterior.” Injuries to the front of a person can happen in car accidents.

Antibiotics – Variety of natural and artificial substances that inhibit the growth of or destroy microorganisms. Treats infections.

Anticonvulsant – Medication for decreasing or stopping seizures. Used to treat traumatic brain injuries.

Anxiety – The feeling of dread or uneasiness that is a normal reaction when the body feels threatened in the near future. Car accidents may cause extreme anxiety from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Aphasia — Loss of the ability to understand or produce language due to a brain injury. This happens after traumatic brain injuries.

Apportionment – The act of dividing something into shares and distributing them equally to different parties, groups, or places. Motorcycle accidents may require skin apportionment to personal injuries.

Arm – The upper extremity from the shoulder to the elbow on the body.

Arteries – Vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the body’s tissue.

Arthritis – Joint inflammation that usually causes pain, swelling, and has the ability to change in structure.

Articular – Relating to or affecting the joints of the body. This also refers to the articular or joint surfaces of bones. Injuries can reduce joint movement .

Articulation – The movement of bones resulting from joints.

Asbestosis – A chronic progressive lung disease caused by long term inhalation of asbestos fibers. Can cause personal injury from misuse or wrongful disposal methods, and asbestos lawyers can file a claim on it.

Atrophy – Wasting away of muscle tissue. Injured persons who remain stationary will experience this.

Audiologist – A health care provider, who diagnoses, evaluates and treats hearing disorders. Head injuries may reduce hearing ability. (see tinnitus)

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) — Acts as control system for a person’s body in order to maintain a stable controlled condition, including involuntary functions, such as heart rate, respiration rate, digestion, perspiration and salivation. It, along with the somatic nervous system, makes up the peripheral nervous system. It is also called the “visceral nervous system”. Traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuries may cause loss of nerve functions.

Avulsion – The pulling apart of tissue either by trauma or by surgery. Can occur during car accidents or treatment of personal injuries.

Axilla – The arm pit.

 

B

Babinski’s Sign — Loss of or diminished Achilles tendon reflex in sciatica. This helps doctors diagnose injuries.

Bladder – A sac of membrane that acts as a receptacle for secretion and liquids created in the body.

Bone – Osseous tissue of the body. Rigid organs that form the skeletal or internal support structure of the human body. They help support the body, allow us to move, protect various internal organs, store minerals and produce red and white blood cells.

Bone Spur – This is a bony growth usually caused by trauma or degenerative joint disease.

Bowel – The intestine or alimentary canal of a body which extends from the to the pylorus to the anus.

Brachial – Regarding the a muscle of the arm that is under the biceps’ brachia.

Brain – Along with the spinal cord, the organ of soft tissue and nerves that makes up the central nervous system. It is contained within the skull and controls all consciousness, thought, memory and emotion. Brain damage can lead to paralysis.

Brain Injury – A type of pain or discomfort that is felt in the brain, a large soft mass of nerve tissue that is inside of the cranium of a person. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to paralysis or wrongful death.

Broken Nose – Commonly referred to as a “nasal fracture.”

Bruised Kidney – An injury which will usually diffuse effusion into subcutaneous tissue that discolors tissue, but may not tear on one of the two organs that excrete urine and follow of other liquids. It can be caused by your seat belt during a car accident.

 

C

Capsulitis – Inflammation of body tissue enclosing a joint.

Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) — A specialized area of a hospital where doctors and nurses continuously watch people suffering heart trouble/disease.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – A medical condition in which the median nerve is compressed in the carpel tunnel of the wrist causing inflammation, numbness, pain and muscle weakness in the fingers, hand and forearm. Although the cause can vary or even be unknown, it is often caused by repetitive activities using the arms, hands or fingers.

Cartilage – The dense connective tissue found in articular or joint surfaces of bones, the rib cage, intervertebral discs, bronchial tubes, the nose and the ear.

Central Nervous System – Made up of the brain and spinal cord, it is the largest part of the nervous system. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries may cause paralysis or wrongful death.

Cerebellum – Located in the back side of the brain, it plays an important role in motor control or movement, as well as in the integration of sensory perception.

Cerebrospinal Fluid – Fluid or liquid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Cervical – (neck) The cervical spine is the uppermost portion of the spinal column represented by C-1 through C-7. Whiplash injuries and spinal cord injuries from automobile accidents often damage this.

Cervical Brace — An orthopedic brace used support the neck. It restricts anterior posterior movement of the neck but allows some normal rotation. Treatment for whiplash and spinal cord injuries.

Chiropractor (DC) – A medical health care professional concentrating on the diagnosis and treatment of the spine, joints and muscles. Chiropractic treatment is based on the theory that spinal joint dysfunction or vertebral subluxation can interfere with the nervous system causing pain and other medical problems. Chiropractic treatment includes the use of adjustments and manipulation of the spinal column, joints and muscles, soft tissue therapy, exercises and lifestyle counseling. Chiropractors often treat disc injuries, a common injury from car accidents.

Chronic – A medical condition that persists. E.g. chronic back pain.

Clavicle – (collar bone) Bone on the upper part of the body.

Coccyx – (tailbone) In a human being, a small bone at the base of the spinal column formed by four fused rudimentary vertebrae.

Codeine – A type of pain medication. An alkaloid obtained from opium or synthetically from morphine as methylmorphine. An analgesic or hypnotic sedative with effects resembling morphine and commonly used for its effectiveness in suppressing coughs.

Cognitive – Referring to the mental process by which the brain collects information and is related to awareness with perception, reasoning, judgment, intuition, and memory. Traumatic brain injuries can reduce cognitive function.

Collapsed Lung – An airless state of all or part of the lung.

Collar – (neck brace) A neckband worn around the neck used to treat whiplash and spinal cord injuries from automobile accidents. (same as Cervical Brace)

Coma – An abnormal, deep stupor occurring in illness, as a result of or due to an injury, usually to the head and not allowing the person to be aroused by external stimuli. Comas are often caused by traumatic brain injuries.

Concussion – An injury from an impact with an object that occurs from a fall or a blow that results in the loss of function either partially or completely. This is a very common brain injury.

Connective Tissue – Tissue that is made up of fewer number of cells, but supports and connects other tissues and parts using mucous or fibrous, including cartilage and bone.

Consciousness – State of awareness that implies an understanding of time, place, and person, as well as having the ability to tap into memories and comprehension of reality. A traumatic brain injury can result in loss of consciousness.

Consultation – A diagnosis and proposed treatment by health care provider, such as a physician.

Continent – The capability of being able to control defecation, urination, and other liquids in the body. Continence may be reduced by paralysis.

Contusion – An injury to the skin that does not break the tissue. Also known as a “bruise.”

Convulsion – Paroxysms of involuntary muscular contractions and relaxations in a living body.

CT Scan – (Computerized tomography) An X-ray of the body that shows internal soft tissue and other body parts typically not seen on regular X-rays. CT Scans help diagnosis personal injuries. Also known as a CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography).

 

D

Deceleration Injury – Injury to the neck area commonly caused by hyperextension or hyperflexion of the neck. This happens many times with rear end auto accidents.

Decompression – The removal or slow reduction of pressure, such as gas caught in the intestinal tract. Can happen in auto accidents where the abdomen is injured by a seat belt.

Decubitus – A person’s position in bed. Also known as a “bedsore.” Happens when a person has problems moving because of personal injury.

Decubitus Ulcer – Initially inflicting the skin, this type of ulcer is caused from prolonged pressure against areas of a person’s skin, usually from lying down. Again, seen in injured persons who have problems moving.

Deep Tendon Reflex Test – A method for monitoring the reflexes within, or fractional stretch reflexes, as opposed to superficial or skin reflexes. Used to diagnose injuries.

Deficit – In reference to a lack of or less than normal amount, usually used in relation to muscular or mental deficit.

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) – A medical condition that causes spinal cord related pain, such as in the lower back or neck, as discs in the spinal cord begin to deteriorate. This is especially painful when you have DDD and your condition is made worse due to a car accident injury.

Degenerative Joint Disease – This is a condition caused by abnormal wear to the cartilage covering various joints. It is also known as “osteoarthritis arthritis” or “degenerative arthritis.”

Denervation – A condition in which the there is an excision, incision, or blocking of a nerve supply or nerves are cut off completely. Associated with paralysis from a spinal cord injury.

Depression – In reference to mental stability, a condition characterized by an alternation in moods and a loss of interest in all things usually pleasurable to the person. Car accidents and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can cause depression.

Diabetes – A disease when your body does not produce enough insulin to control blood sugar. If you have this pre-existing condition and are injured in a car accident, this can adversely affect your treatment and recovery.

Diagnosis – Use of scientific and skillful methods to establish the cause and nature of a person’s illness and is done through the evaluation the person’s history with the disease, symptoms and laboratory data.

Diazepam – A tranquilizer medication used for the treatment of anxiety and tension. It is also a sedative, muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant.

Diffuse Brain Injury – Pain or discomfort to the brain caused by shearing forces that occur between different parts of the brain as a result of rotational acceleration. Both the corpus callosum and the brainstem are often hurt. Paralysis may result.

Diplopia – Double-vision. Seeing two of something that should be singular. Symptom of a brain injury.

Disabled – Condition referring to a person who has any type of restriction or lack of ability to perform any activity in the manner considered normal for a person. This is often the result of an injury involving the brain or spinal cord. People will often file a claim to compensate their lost wages and diminished quality of life.

Disability – The restriction or lack of ability to perform any activity in the manner considered normal for a person. Again, this may result from an injury to the brain or spinal cord.

Disc – Also known as a “disk”. A flat, round, plate-like structure that is found in the vertebrae that can be damaged from a spinal cord injury. A common car accident injury is a damaged disc.

Disc Bulge — Term used to describe a disc in the vertebrae that has been dislodged but has not yet herniated. This is a common back and spinal cord injury from car accidents.

Disc Herniation – The rupturing of a disc located in the vertebrae from too much pressure and tension, often time leading to considerable back pain and nerve damage. Again, this is a common back and spinal cord injury from car accidents.

Discectomy – Surgical procedure that removes the fragment of a herniated disc from a person’s back or vertebrae. Performed on injuries to the spinal cord.

Discogram – The X-ray slide from a discography that shows the intervertebral disk in a person used in diagnosis of disc herniation and other back pains. Used to diagnose spinal cord injuries.

Discography – Use of a dye injected into the intervertebral disk to perform a more detailed X-ray. Again, used to diagnose spinal cord injuries.

Disc Space Narrowing – The gap between two adjacent vertebral bodies becomes tighter and has less room in between the disks. Can be genetic.

Distal – Term meaning farthest from the center, medial line, or trunk. Opposite of “proximal.” Used to describe the location of injuries on the body.

Dorsal – Referring to the back of a body, indicating a position towards the rear. The opposite of “ventral” or front of a body. Referring to injuries on the back side of a person.

Double-Vision – Seeing two images of one object at the same time. Can be a side effect of a brain injury.

Dura – Short for “dura matter,” which refers to the outer covering of the spinal cord and brain. May tear in spinal cord or brain injuries.

 

E

Ecchymosis – (bruising) A skin discoloration of blue and black that turns greenish brown or yellow over time.

Edema – (swelling) A local or generalized condition in which the body tissues contain an excessive amount of tissue fluid. Swelling often occurs in traumatic brain injuries.

Elbow – Joint on the body that is located between the arm and the forearm.

Electromyogram (EMG) — A graphic record of the contraction of a muscle as a result of electrical stimulation. Used to diagnose injuries.

Emergency Room (ER) — The portion of a hospital for medical emergencies. The ER is used to treat people that need immediate medical attention.

Encephalography – X-ray examination of the head, usually following the introduction of air into the ventricles through a lumbar or cisternal puncture. Test for traumatic brain injuries.

Epidural Space – Space outside of dura mater (or outer layer) of the brain or spinal cord. Can be damaged in spinal cord or brain injuries.

Epidural Block – The obstruction of the epidural space by compression, hematoma (bleeding) or scar tissue. Pain management for spinal cord injuries.

Examination – When a doctor diagnoses the presence or absence of disease, illness or personal injury.

Extension – The movement of a body part into a straight condition (e.g. extending your arm or leg). The opposite of “flexion.”

External Fixator – A device for holding fractured bones in place on the outside of your body when an internal fixator is not enough. Used to severe bone fractures.

Extremity – Parts of the body that furthest away the middle (i.e. an arm or leg).

Eye – Organ used for vision. Eyesight can be reduced after a traumatic brain injury.

 

F

FABER’s Test (Flexion Abduction External Rotation) — The most common test to diagnose hip arthritis.

Facet – A small, smooth area on a bone.

Facet Joint – The zygapophyseal or neural (nerve) arch joints of the spinal cord between the facets of each pair of vertebrae.

Fascia – A fibrous membrane that covers, supports and separates muscles.

Femur – (thigh bone) The bone that extends from the hip to the knee. It is the longest and strongest bone in the human skeleton.

Fetus – The latest stage in the development of a pregnancy. Pregnant women are not permitted to ride on rollercoasters and such over fear of wrongful death.

Fibromyalgia – Chronic pain in muscles and soft tissue surrounding joints.

Fibula – The outer, smaller bone of the lower leg from the ankle to the knee, next to the tibia. It is one of the longest and thinnest bones in the body.

Finger – One of the five digits branching out from the hand. Holding and bending abilities can be reduced after a broken finger.

Fixation – The act of holding or fastening in a fixed position or to immobilize and make rigid. This may not be possible after an injury to the hand.

Flexeril – A medication. The trademark for the drug “cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride,” a medication used to relax muscles. Used to treat pain from injuries.

Flexion – The act of bending.

Flexion-Extension Injury – Pain and discomfort in bone joints.

Fluoroscopy – An imaging technique commonly used by physicians to obtain real-time moving images of internal injuries.

Foley Catheter – A thin, sterile tube inserted into the bladder to remove urine.

Forearm – The lower arm between the elbow and the wrist.

Forensic Medicine – A form of investigative medicine used to determine the cause of an injury.

Fracture – A broken bone.

Frontal Lobe – Four main convolutions in front of the central sulcus of the cranium. Can be damaged from a blow to the head.

Future Medical Care – An estimation of how much medical treatment, as well as the potential cost, a person will need for the rest of their life. Used to calculate the cost of treatment for personal injury.

 

G

GI Tube – (Gastrointestinal tube) Goes into a patient’s stomach and provides food to persons that are unable to eat. Used after surgery or for paraplegics and quadriplegics.

Glasgow Coma Scale – A scale for evaluating the degree of a coma by determining the best motor, verbal and eye-opening response to standardized stimuli. A score of 7 or less is classed as a coma and a score equal to or greater than 9 is not classified as a coma.

 

H

Halo – The areola, especially of the nipple. A ring surrounding the macula lutea in ophthalmoscopic images.

Hand – The distal part of the body attached to the forearm at the wrist.

Headaches – Pain or discomfort that may occur in different portions of the head.

Heart Attack – A condition caused by partial or complete blocking of one or more of the coronary arteries connected to the heart, often resulting in wrongful death. Scientifically referred to as “myocardial infraction.” It can happen due to a blunt injury to the chest or severe loss of blood.

Hematoma – A swelling or mass of blood, usually clotted, that is caused by a break in a blood vessel. (See subdural hematoma)

Hemorrhage – Abnormal, severe internal or external bleeding from blood vessels into tissues or into other body parts.

Herniated Nucleus – A slipped spinal disk along the spinal cord. Occurs when all or part of the soft center of a spinal disk is forced through a weakened part of the outer disk. This is a common injury in car accidents.

Herniation – Condition where a protrusion or projection of an organ or a part of an organ through the wall of a cavity that normally contains it. A common herniation is a herniated spinal cord disc.

Hip – Upper part of the thigh, formed by the femur and innominate bones and is used in reference to the region on each side of the pelvis. Hip injuries can severely reduce your ability to walk.

Hoffman’s Signs – Shows whether or not tendon reflexes are present in your hand. It is determined by flicking or nipping the nail of either the second, third, or fourth finger. If the reflex is present, it will cause a flexion of these fingers and maybe thumb.

Hospital – Institute for the treatment of people that are injured or sick.

Hydrocephalus – The increased accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain that can result from interference with normal blood circulation. This may cause infections, brain injuries or tumor growth in the brain.

Hygroma – A closed sac that contains fluid.

Hyperextension – Extreme or abnormal extension.

Hyperflexion – Increased flexion of a joint.

Hypertension – Greater than normal tension that often results in higher blood pressure.

Hypertonia – Abnormal tension of arteries or muscles.

Hypoesthesia – Partial loss of sensation or diminished sensibility.

Hypolordosis – A loss of the normal curvature of the spine, usually resulting in a difficulty in straightening of the neck or lower back.

Hypotonia – Reduced tension and relaxation of arteries.

Hypoxia – Oxygen deficiency or a decreased concentration of oxygen.

 

I

Ibuprofen – An anti-inflammatory painkiller medication.

Idiopathic – A medical term for an unknown cause.

Ilium – The widest pelvic bone.

Impairment – A loss of function, usually one’s arm or legs.

Impingement – Abnormal compression or encroachment of one anatomical structure on another.

Incompetency – When an individual is unable to legally act on their behalf due to age, injury or emotional condition. A legal representative would be appointed in this situation.

Incontinence – Inability to retain bodily fluids such as urine.

Infection – When your body has been contaminated with a disease or microorganism.

Inflammation – A response of body tissues to injury or irritation, characterized by pain and swelling and redness and heat.

Insomnia – A disorder where a person is unable sleep or rest.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) — A specialized section of a hospital containing the equipment, medical and nursing staff, and monitoring devices necessary to provide medical care to critically ill or injured patients.

Intervertebral Disc – Spinal disc between two vertebrae. Injury to an intervertebral disc can lead to paralysis.

Intercranial Pressure (ICP) – Pressure inside of the skull caused by a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid. This can be caused by a traumatic brain injury.

 

K

Kidney – Paired organs, purple brown in color, situated in opposite sides of the back of the body, that removes toxins from the body and regulates the body’s water, urine, electrolyte and pH levels.

Kinesiology – The study of muscles and body movement (body mechanics).

Knee – The joint that connects the femur and tibia.

 

L

Labrum – A ring of fibrous cartilage around the edge of the joint surface of a bone.

Lamina – A thin flat layer or membrane, sometimes in reference to the flattened part of either side of the arch of spinal vertebrae.

Laminectomy – The removal of a vertebral arch, a treatment for certain spinal cord injuries.

Lateral – Refers to the side of the body.

Lateral Flexion – The act of bending the side of the body.

Leg – One of the two lower extremities between the pelvis and the foot. It is comprised of the femur, tibia, fibula and patella.

Ligament – A band or sheet of strong fibrous connective tissue that connects the ends of bones, serving to bind them together and facilitate motion.

Liver – Largest organ in the body has a wide range of functions, a few of which are detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion.

Lumbar – The lower back, located between the thorax and pelvis.

Lung – One of two cone-shaped spongy organs charged with respiration (breathing).

 

M

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Technique that uses a strong magnetic field to absorb and re-emit electromagnetic energy that provides images of the heart, large blood vessels, brain and soft tissue.

Mandible – The horse-shaped bone forming the lower jaw.

Manipulation – A joint mobilization technique, usually involving a rapid thrust or stretching a joint with the patient under anesthesia.

Massage Therapy – Type of treatment that uses manipulation, methodical pressure, friction and kneading of a person’s body.

Maxilla – A paired bone with several processes that form the skeletal base of most of the upper face, roof of the mouth, sides of the nasal cavity, and floor of the orbit.

Maximum Medical Improvement – The highest effect of recovery seen in an illness, infection or injury. While you may not necessarily be healed 100%, there will likely be no further recovery.

McMurray Test – Manipulation of the tibia when the leg is flexed. Positive results will produce an audible click if the meniscus has been injured.

Median Nerve – A combined motor and sensory nerve having its origin in the brachial plexus. An injury to this nerve may result in paralysis.

Medical Treatment – Care and management of a patient’s illness, injury, infection or disease through the use of prescribed remedies.

Medication – Usually a drug that treats, prevents or alleviates the symptoms of disease.

Membrane – Thin, soft, pliable layer of tissue that lines a tube or cavity, covers an organ or structure, or separates one part from another.

Meninges – Membranes, specifically three membranes that wrap around the spinal cord and brain. Can be damaged due to spinal cord or brain injuries.

Migraine – Frequent unilateral headaches, usually accompanied by disordered vision and stomach problems.

Mobility – State or quality of being able to move.

Motor – A part or center that induces movement, such as nerves or muscles.

Motor Control – The systematic transmission of nerve impulses from the motor cortex to motor units, resulting in coordinated contractions of muscles. Motor control may be lost due to paralysis.

Motor Deficit – A loss of muscle strength usually due to an impairment of nerves. Occurs after injuries involving the spinal cord or brain.

Motor Skills – The coordination of small muscle movements, usually in the fingers, hands, or legs, that are in synch with the images read through the eyes.

Motrin – Trademark for ibuprofen. A non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication typically used to treat pain.

Muscle Spasm – An involuntary, frequently painful, contraction of a muscle.

Myalgia – Tenderness or pain of the muscles. Also known as “Muscular Rheumatism.”

Myelogram – An injection dye into the spinal cord for a more accurate diagnosis of spinal cord injuries.

Myofascial – Refers to pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.

Myofascial Pain – Medical term for muscle pain.

Myofibrosis – Increase of connective or fibrous tissue with degeneration of muscular tissue.

 

N

Nasal Cavity – Either of the two cavities of the nose.

Neck – Part of the body between the head and shoulders. This is typically subject to whiplash in car accident and, if broken, paralysis (quadriplegia or paraplegia).

Neck Brace – A brace worn by a patient to steady their neck. Used to treat whiplash.

Nerve – A bundle or group of bundles of nerve fibers outside the central nervous system that connect the brain and spinal cord with various parts of the body. Damage to one can result in paralysis.

Nerve Block – The induction of regional anesthesia by preventing sensory nerve impulses from reaching centers of consciousness.

Nerve Conduction – The ability for nerves to use electrical conduction functionally for the purpose of motor skills in the human body. Ability lost after brain injury or spinal cord injury.

Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) – Commonly used to test of the function, especially the ability of electrical conduction, of the motor and sensory nerves of the human body. Used to diagnose spinal cord and brain injuries.

Nerve Root – Initial segment of a nerve leaving the central nervous system. Injury to it may result in paralysis.

Nervous System – A system of nerve cells, interlaced with each other that regulates and coordinates body activity. Injury to it may result in paralysis.

Neuralgia – Severe sharp pain along the course of a nerve. Often the symptom of a brain injury or spinal cord injury.

Neuro-otologist – Physician who specializes in the study of the inner ear and commonly treats vertigo.

Neurologist – A doctor that specializes in the nervous system.

Neurology – The branch of medicine that studies the nervous system and its diseases.

Neuropathy – Any disease of nerves.

Neuroradiology – The branch of medicine that utilizes radiography for diagnosis of pathology of the nervous system. Used to diagnose spinal cord and brain injuries.

Neurosurgeon – A surgeon that specializes in the nervous system (brain and spinal cord injuries).

Numbness – Lack of sensation in a part of the body. Long term numbness in the body is called paralysis.

 

O

Objective – Perceptible to other persons, usually referring to symptoms. The opposite of subjective.

Occupational Therapy – Therapeutic use of work, self-care and play activities to increase independent function, enhance development and prevent disability. Used to treat auto accident injuries.

Operation – The act of performing a surgical procedure.

Ophthalmologist – A medical doctor that specializes in the eye.

Optometrist – A specialist that handles the correction of vision problems using lenses and other optical aids. Optometrists cannot perform surgery and is not a medical doctor.

Orthopedic Surgeon – A physician who performs surgery on the skeletal and muscular systems.

Orthopedic Surgery – Surgical treatment of the muscular and skeletal system.

Orthopedics – Branch of medical science that deals with prevention or correction of disorders involving the skeleton, joints, muscles, ligaments and cartilage.

Orthotics – The science related to mechanical appliances for orthopedic use, such as foot inserts. Used to help treat automobile accident injuries.

Osteopathy – A branch of medicine based upon based on manipulation of bones and muscles (holistic medicine).

Osteophytes – Also known as bone spurs, which bone and cartilage protrusions that are very common and develop in areas of a degenerating joint, usually associated with osteoarthritis. Can be exacerbated after car accident injuries to a bone.

Osteoporosis – A bone disorder in which bone mass thins, resulting in thin or brittle bones.

 

P

Pain – The sensory experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Includes not only the feeling of something that hurts, but also the body’s response to that feeling.

Pain Clinic – A facility in which a person with chronic, poorly controlled or intolerable pain can go to obtain physical and pharmacologic therapy for pain relief.

Pain Management – Encompasses drug and non-drug approaches to prevent, reduce or stop pain.

Pain Medication – Prescribed remedies to prevent, reduce or stop pain sensations.

Palpation – Process of examining by application of the hands or fingers to the external surface of the body to detect evidence of disease or abnormalities in various organs.

Paralysis – Temporary suspension or permanent loss of function to go along with the loss of sensation or voluntary motion. Often the result of a catastrophic brain or spinal cord injury.

Paraplegia – Paralysis of lower portion of the body and of both legs.

Parasthesia – A skin sensation, such as burning, prickling, itching or tingling with no apparent physical cause.

Patella – A lens-shaped bone situated in front of the knee.

Pathologist – A specialist in diagnosing the abnormal changes in tissues removed at operations and autopsies

Pediatrician – Physician who specializes in the treatment of children’s diseases.

Peripheral Nervous System – The portion of the nervous system outside the central nervous system, including all sensory nerves. It is the part of the nervous system that “feels.” If damaged in a spinal cord injury, this could cause paralysis.

Permanent – Enduring or without change.

Physical Therapy – Rehabilitation concerned with restoration of function and prevention of disability following disease, injury or loss of body part typically through the use of exercise, heat, cold, electricity and massage.

Plateau – An elevated and usually flat area. Referred to in medicine as the stage when progress occurs at a very slow or flat rate in comparison to earlier phases. Negative indication of recovery from an injury or illness.

Pneumonia – Inflammation of the lungs caused primarily by bacteria, viruses and chemical irritants.

Post-Concussion Syndrome – Symptoms experienced by a person for weeks, months or sometimes years after a concussion or head injury. These symptoms are usually headaches or dizzy spells.

Posterior – Refers to the rear of the body (opposite of anterior).

Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) – Loss of memory for events immediately following a trauma. Sometimes effects patients during and for a long time following the trauma.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – The development of characteristic symptoms after a psychologically traumatic event that is generally outside the range of usual human experience. Also commonly trigged by stress or automobile accidents. Symptoms include re-experiencing the traumatic event and numbing of general responsiveness.

Posture – Attitude or position of the body.

Pre-Morbid Condition – Conditions that exist in a person prior to the development of a disease.

Prescription – A written order for dispensing and administering drugs signed by a physician, dentist or other licensed practitioner.

Prognosis – A doctor’s prediction of a disease or recovery and the estimate of chance for recovery.

Prone – Lying horizontal with face downward. The opposite of supine.

Protruding Disc – Also known as a “herniated disc”. A rupture of the delicate material that surrounds the intervertebral disk and includes the release of the disk’s center portion containing a gelatinous substance. Pressure from the vertebrae may cause the gelatinous nucleus pulposus to be forced outward, causing considerable pain and damage to the nerve. Often the result of a spinal cord injury from a car accident.

Proximal – Nearest point of attachment, center of the body, as a point of reference. The opposite of distal.

Psychiatry – The science concerned with the study, diagnosis, and prevention of mental illness. A method of treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Psychology – The methods of psychological analysis, therapy and research.

Punctured Lung – Scientifically referred to as pneumothorax. A collection of air or gas in the chest that causes part or all of a lung to collapse.

 

Q

Quadriparesis – Weakness of all four limbs, both arms and both legs as is seen in conditions such as muscular dystrophy.

Quadriplegia – Paralysis of all four extremities and most of the trunk that is usually caused by a spinal cord injury that hurts the cervical spine. The higher the injury is on the spinal cord, the more affected the rest of the body.

 

R

Radiating Pain – A pain that moves from the original area outwards to another part of the body.

Radicular Pain – Discomfort and unpleasant sensation that comes from injury to a radicle tissue on or around the root of a tooth.

Radiculitis – Inflammation of spinal nerve roots, accompanied by pain and hyperesthesia.

Radiculopathy – Any disease or condition of roots of spinal nerves.

Radiology – The branch of medicine concerned with radioactive substances (X-rays, radioactive isotopes and ionizing radiations) and the application of this information to diagnose certain types of diseases and injuries.

Range of Motion – The range of movement of a joint.

Reflex – An involuntary response to stimulus that are specific and predictable and are usually purposeful and adaptive. Reflexes can be damaged by a spinal cord or brain injury.

Rehabilitation – The process of treatment and education that hopes to lead a disabled or injured person to attain maximum function or recovery, a sense of well-being and a level of independence.

Respirator – A machine for prolonged artificial respiration (breathing) where mechanical movement assists a patient’s breathing. It is used to produce either intermittent or continuous positive pressure in the lungs.

Restrictions – Anything that is a limit or barrier to movement. In hospitals this refers to the limiting of a health care provider’s practice of medicine due to activities determined to be illegal or at least of questionable medical judgment.

Rib – One of a series of 12 pairs of narrow, curved bones extending out and to the front of the body from the thoracic vertebrae and forming the rib cage. Each can be cracked or fractured from a chest injury and cause a punctured lung.

Rhizotomy – Section of a root, as of a nerve or tooth.

Rotation – Process of turning on an axis.

Rotator Cuff – A set of muscles and tendons that secures the arm to the shoulder joint and permits rotation of the arm.

 

S

Sacrum – The triangular bone situated on back of two ilia (plural for ilium) between the 5th lumbar vertebra and the coccyx (tailbone). Usually narrower in men and more curved in women.

Scalp – The top of the head, including: skin, dense subcutaneous tissue, muscle and loose tissue.

Scapula – (shoulder blade) The large, flat, triangular bone that forms the posterior part of the shoulder. It connects the clavicle (collarbone) and the humerus (upper arm).

Scar – Mark left in skin or internal organ after the healing of a wound, sore or injury.

Sciatica – Severe pain in the back of the thigh running down the inside of the leg. This is often a symptom of a spinal cord injury.

Sciatic Nerve – Largest nerve in the body, arising from the hip, down through the back of the thigh where it divides into tibial and peroneal nerves.

Scoliosis – Lateral curvature of the spine, usually consists of two curves, the original abnormal curve and a compensatory curve in the opposite direction.

Sedentary – Relating to an occupation or lifestyle that consists of minimal physical exercise.

Seizure – A sudden attack of pain, disease or certain symptoms.

Sensation – A feeling or awareness of conditions within or without the body resulting from the stimulation of sensory receptors. Spinal cord and brain injuries can severely reduce or eliminate sensation.

Sensory Deficit – One or more defective senses.

Sensory Stimulation – The practice of inserting needles into skin and tissue to coax the body into using its energy to heal itself. Most commonly used in acupuncture.

Sepsis – (blood poisoning) Pathologic state, usually febrile, resulting from the presence of microorganisms or their poisonous products in the bloodstream.

Shoulder – The joint where the humerus, clavicle and scapula meet.

Skull – The thick bony framework of the head. Composed of eight cranial bones, the 14 bones of the face, and the teeth.

Skull Fracture – Break or rupture of the cranial bones. This traumatic brain injury is usually caused by falls, assault, sports, occupational accidents, auto accidents and other forms of blunt trauma.

SOAP – Abbreviation for the typical structure of a doctor’s record keeping for chart notes. Subjective findings; Objective findings; Assessment, the documented analysis and conclusion of findings; Plan for further diagnostic or therapeutic action.

Soft Cervical Collar – An orthopedic collar used support the neck. It restricts frontal and backward neck movement, while still allowing rotation. Used to help treat spinal cord injuries from automobile accidents.

Soft Tissue – All body tissue except for bones, teeth, nails, hair and cartilage.

Somatic Nervous System – The voluntary system that controls impulses (movement) by the skeletal muscles from the central nervous system.

Soreness – In reference to tenderness or pain from an injury, ulcer or lesion of the skin.

Spasm – An involuntary sudden movement or muscular contraction which occurs as a result of some irritant or trauma. When strong and painful, they are classified as cramps.

Spinal Canal – Canal of the vertebral column that contains the spinal cord.

Spinal Cord – A column of nervous tissue averaging about 44 cm in length, extending from the base of the brain to the 2nd lumbar vertebrae. All nerves to the trunk and limbs are issued from the spinal cord and it is the center of reflex action containing the conducting paths to and from the brain. Paralysis may result if the spinal cord is injured.

Spinal Fusion – Surgical immobilization of adjacent vertebrae. The procedure may be done for several conditions, but is commonly used to treat a slip or herniated disk, a common car accident injury. The bone used in this procedure is commonly harvested from one’s hip.

Spinal Instability – The inability for the spinal column to retain its natural shape because of genetics, trauma, degenerative change or diseases affecting the vertebrae, intervertebral discs or spinal ligaments.

Spinal Nerve – Nerve arising from the spinal cord including 31 pairs. It consists of eight cervical, 12 thoracic, five lumbar, five sacral, and one coccygeal. Damage to one could result in paralysis.

Spinal Nerve Block – Usually meaning a local anesthetic injected into the peripheral nerves to numb sensation or feeling. Used when performing spinal cord surgery.

Spinal Stenosis – Any narrowing of the spinal canal that causes compression of the spinal nerve cord, causing pain in a person and may cause loss of some body functions.

Spinal Subluxation – Condition where a spine’s alignment, movement or physiological function is altered although contact between joint surfaces remains intact.

Spine – The spinal column, consisting of 33 vertebrae, including seven cervical, 12 thoracic, five lumbar, five sacral and four coccygeal. A fracture to the spine might cause paralysis.

Spondylitis – (Pott’s disease) Inflammation of one or more vertebrae.

Spondylolysis – Happens when the vertebral structure breaks down.

Spondylosyndesis – Surgical formation of an ankylosis (immobility of a joint) between vertebrae which is typically used for spinal disc fusion.

Sprain – Trauma to a joint that causes pain and disability depending upon degree of injury to ligaments. In severe cases, the ligaments may tear completely.

Sprained Ankle – Trauma that causes pain and disability to ankle ligaments.

Stenosis – The narrowing of an opening or passage way in the body. In reference to the spinal cord, stenosis constricts the spinal cord nerves causing tremendous pain and suffering.

Sternum – The narrow, flat bone in the middle of the rib cage. It consists of three portions: the manubrium, the gladiolus and the ensiform or xiphoid process.

Steroid – Applied to any one of a large group of substances chemically related to testosterone that are used to treat an inflammatory condition.

Stiffness – Condition where a body part is firm, rigid or inflexible.

Stimulus – A detectable change in the internal or external environment. An excitant or irritant. This is often not felt by persons with paralysis.

Strain – Over-exertion of a body part to the point of injury.

Stretching – Process performed to loosen contracted ligaments, muscles and adhesion in stiff joints.

Subacute – Between acute and chronic, relating to the course of a disease or of the healing process following tissue injury.

Subdural Hematoma – A collection of blood (hematoma) in the space between the outer layer (dura) and middle layers of the covering of the brain. It is often caused by torn, bleeding veins on the inside of head as result of a head injury.

Subjective – Arising from or concerned with the individual, but not perceptible to an observer. For example, a patient complains of foot pain. The opposite of objective.

Subluxation – A partial or incomplete dislocation, referring to the relaxation or stretching of the capsule and ligaments that results in popping noises during movement or partial dislocation.

Supine – Lying on one’s back with the face upward. The opposite of prone.

Swelling – An abnormal enlargement that usually appears on the surface of the body.

Sympathetic Nervous System – A large part of the autonomic nervous system that supplies the involuntary muscles. Majority of nerves of the system are for motor functioning, but it also includes some sensory nerves as well. Spinal cord injuries involving it cause physical disability or paralysis.

Symptom – Any perceptible change in the body or its functions that indicate disease, injury or illness.

Synovial Fluid – Clear lubricating fluid secreted to lubricate joints and tendons.

Synovial Membrane – The outer lining of a joint capsule.

Synovitis – Inflammation of the capsule of a joint.

 

T

Tailbone – (coccyx) The small bone below the sacrum, formed by union of three to five rudimentary vertebrae that in turn forms the lower extremity of the vertebral column.

Talus – The ankle bone.

Teeth – Hard, bony projections in jaws used for chewing. There are 32 permanent teeth in the human mouth, with 16 found in the upper and lower jaw.

Temporal – Relating to or limited in time, but medically it refers to the temples on the side of your head anterior to (in front of) the ears.

Temporal Bone – A bone on both sides of the skull at its base the encloses the ears.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) – The joint between the jaw and skull bones.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction – Severe aching pain in and about the temporomandibular joint that is often made worse by chewing. The joint is limited in movement and clicking sounds can occur during chewing. It is often injured in a car accident.

Tenderness – Sensitivity to pain upon pressure.

Tendinitis – Inflammation of a tendon.

Tendon – Fibrous connective tissue serving for the attachment of muscles to bones and other parts.

Therapy – Treatment of a disease or pathological condition.

Therapeutic Exercise – Scientific supervision of exercise for the purpose of preventing muscular atrophy, restoring joint and muscle function, increasing muscular strength, and improving efficiency of cardiovascular and pulmonary function.

Therapeutic Massage – The use of certain hand techniques (touch and stroking) to relax muscles and soft tissue to treat disease or injury.

Tests – An examination or method to diagnosis injuries or disease.

Thigh – The portion of the body between the hip and knee.

Thoracic/Thorax – (upper back or chest) Referring to the part of the body between the base of the neck and the diaphragm.

Tibia – The inner and larger bone of the leg between the knee (patella) and the ankle (talus).

Tinnitus — A subjective ringing or tinkling sound in the ear.

Tomography – Any of several noninvasive special techniques to diagnose tissue injuries by showing detailed images of selected tissues that blurs images of other structures.

Toxicology – Division of medical and biological science concerned with detecting toxic substances and studying their chemical makeup.

Traction – Process of drawing or pulling on the body.

Tramadol – A type of opioid painkiller medication used for the treatment of pain following surgical procedures and oral surgery.

Transverse Process – One of two processes that extend from each vertebra and provide the point of contact between the spine and ribs.

Trapezius – A flat, triangular muscle covering posterior surface of neck and shoulder. The muscle is often damaged by whiplash in an auto accident.

Trauma – A physical injury or wound caused by external force or violence.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – A severe neurological condition in which a person suffered an injury to the head.

Trigger Point Injection – A procedure used to treat muscle pain by stimulating trigger points, or knots of muscle felt under the skin that form when muscles do not relax.

Tylenol – Brand name for acetaminophen. Painkiller medication that relieves pain by elevating your pain threshold. Commonly used to treat headaches and muscle pains.

 

U

Ulnar Nerve – A large superficial nerve of the arm that supplies sensation and movement to the skin and muscles of the little-finger side of the forearm and hand. It starts in the humerus (upper arm), passes around the elbow and continues down the inner side of the forearm.

Urinalysis – Analysis of urine.

 

V

Valium – The brand name for diazepam. A tranquilizer medication used for the treatment of anxiety and tension. It is also a sedative, muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant.

Veins – Vessels carrying dark red (deoxygenated) blood to the heart, except for the pulmonary vein, which carries oxygenated blood to the lungs.

Ventral – Related to the lower or underneath side of the body. In people, this is referred to as the anterior portion or the front side of the body. Opposite of dorsal.

Ventricles – Small cavities. More commonly know as either of the two lower chambers of the heart that, when filled with blood, contract to propel it into the arteries. Also refers to the cavities of the brain.

Vertebra/Vertebrae – The 33 bony or cartilaginous segments that make up the spinal column.

Vertigo – A feeling or sensation of a loss of balance, usually a result of an equilibrium problem in the inner ear. The symptoms can be dizziness, lightheadedness or giddiness.

Vicodin — A type of painkiller medication. The brand name for hydrocodone. A derivative of codeine that is about six times more potent than codeine and classified as a controlled substance.

Vision – The sense of sight, by which light and color are interpreted by the brain.

 

W

Whiplash – Injury to the cervical vertebrae and adjacent soft tissue. Produced by a sudden jerking or relative backward or forward acceleration of the head with respect to the vertebral column. One of the most common injuries that occur in an automobile accident.

Work Restrictions – Limitation on the amount of work a recovering person is allowed to perform during their healing period.

Wrist – The joint or region between the hand and the forearm.

 

X

X-Ray – A high-energy electromagnetic wave that is used to diagnosis and treat injuries and illness. Has the ability to penetrate most solid matter and show the results on photographic film.

 

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