The gold standard for proving traumatically caused soft-tissue spinal injuries is showing the jury the abnormal findings on the MRI films. Nevertheless, showing the jury the normal findings also provides further proof that the abnormal findings were caused by trauma.
Spinal discs are soft cushions that rest between the bones of the spine, the vertebrae. These discs can bulge, which means the disc pouches out symmetrically. These discs can also herniate, which means the disc ruptures or protrudes out. Both conditions may be caused by trauma and may produce symptoms such as pain and/or limited movement.
In most instances, the defense will try to convince the jury that disc bulges and/or herniations are caused by the aging process or degeneration rather than trauma. Indications of degeneration on MRI films includes: Disc dessication (the disc has dried out), disc space narrowing, and osteophytes (bony outgrowth). Showing the jury on the MRI films that the discs are not dried out and have retained normal disc height spaces provides proof that no degeneration was occurring in the spine. Showing the jury that there are no osteophytes on the MRI films further shows the jury that degeneration was not occurring.
Therefore, even normal findings on MRI films provide the jury with relevant proof of traumatically-caused soft-tissue spinal injuries.