A disc herniation is an injury to the spine. It is described as an injury to the cushioning that sits between individual spine bones. Dydyk (2020), in his article, Disc Herniation, defined disc herniation as “a condition affecting the spine in which the annulus fibrosus is damaged enabling the nucleus pulposus (which is normally located within the center of the disc) to herniate. This can compress the nerves or spinal cord, causing pain and spinal cord dysfunction.” He further described it as “a condition during which a nucleus pulposus is displaced from intervertebral space.”
According to an article by Spine Universe, there are three major causes of disc herniation. They are as follows:
- Wear and tear of the spine
Wear and tear of the spine are mainly a result of aging. As the body grows older, so does the spine grow tired. It can also result from a daily task performed by a person. This is also known as degeneration.
One of the most common causes of disc herniation is injury. A fatal injury to the spine can lead to this condition. The injury can be caused by a fall, car accident, workplace injury, battery, and many more accidents. When another person causes the injury, courtroom animation is the best way of portraying it.
- A combination of wear and tear and an injury
This is a combination of both causes mentioned above. This occurs when the disc herniation is already in motion, whether diagnosed or not, followed by a subsequent injury. The injury can further worsen the disc herniation and its effects on the victim. Proving this case in the court of law is more complex than it seems. This is because it is effortless for the defendant to claim that the disc herniation was the cause of the aging and not the accident. With the help of courtroom animation, the wear and tear progression and the herniation’s escalation through an accident can be effectively proved.
Proving a Disc Herniation Using Courtroom Animation
The disc is an organ that is invisible to the naked eyes and cannot be explained easily without appropriate visual aid. Diagnosing a disc herniation is not always easy, even with the use of x-rays. There is the need for more advanced testing methods like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS), and electromyogram.
Looking at the sensitivity of this kind of injury and the limitations to diagnosing it, it is also appropriate to use courtroom animation inadequately explaining the condition and its effects to the jury.
In the case of Chaplin v. Taylor, the plaintiff made a prima facie case showing that the disc herniation was suffered as a result of an accident caused by the defendant. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the plaintiff’s cervical spine and lower back portrayed a posteriorly herniated disc. The defendant in the instant case failed to prove that the disc herniation was not caused by the accident. Therefore, judgment was delivered in favor of the plaintiff.
Proving a disc herniation may be difficult using word of mouth, charts, or graphs. This is because of the nature of the injury. To engage the jury and explain the magnitude of the effect of the herniation, courtroom animation must be used.
Several disc herniation cases have failed because the jury believed it to be mild. McKay (2020), in his article, Show and Tell, talks about the impact of technology in the courtroom. He used a case of disc herniation as an example. He explained that it is very easy to be cut up in medical terms and explanation when proving disc herniation, but that does not mean anything to the jury. However, when courtroom animation is used, it appropriately depicts the condition to the jury. He stated that “technology enhances understanding and retention, and establishes a greater degree of credibility.”
Therefore, when dealing with a case involving disc herniation, all the medical reports must be present. However, courtroom animation must not be left out to foster understanding and credibility.