One of the worst injuries Texans can suffer in a car accident is paralysis. Such injuries can be lifelong, debilitating and expensive in many ways. Jim Adler & Associates understands the enormity of paralysis and can help victims recover financially.
According to a study by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation reported in the New York Times, 5.6 million Americans, or 1.9% of the population, are paralyzed. Many of these persons were paralyzed in car accidents, often due to a spinal cord injury in the crash, but also due to brain injury. The brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system which controls all movement in the body.
Paralysis can happen when nerves in the spinal cord are severely damaged. Such nerves control muscles throughout the body, with lumbar spine nerves controlling the lower body, and cervical spine nerves controlling functions in the upper half of the body.
Injuries to the cervical spine can produce paralysis in the upper part of the body as well as the lower body. Injuries to the lumbar spine can create paralysis for the lower body.
Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis are rare in car wrecks but also extremely costly. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that America has 11 million auto accidents yearly. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that about 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury in the U.S. yearly.
Thus, even if every spinal cord injury was in a car wreck — which it is not — that would mean such injuries occur in just over one out of every 1,000 wrecks. However, it’s believed that car wrecks account for about 40% of spinal cord injuries, or about 4,800 per year out of more than 2 million car wreck injuries.
Yet while still rare, those suffering paralysis in a car accident have devastating, life-changing and hugely expensive injuries. These persons need legal remedies to recover financially — remedies which can include a car accident lawsuit.
Though it was the spinal cord which was injured in a crash, paralysis symptoms can happen throughout the victim’s body. Symptoms can be or one side of the body (unilateral) or on both sides of the body (bilateral).
Symptoms of paralysis after a car accident include:
- Difficulty of movement or inability of movement
- Breathing or respiratory difficulty, including choking, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing or not breathing
- Passing out or unresponsiveness
- Trouble with memory, communication or muscle coordination
Types of Paralysis
Paralysis can be temporary or permanent. Paralysis also can be complete or incomplete.
Complete paralysis means a victim has no sensation or motor functioning below the site of the injury. Incomplete paralysis means victims may have some sensation or motor functioning below the injury level.
It may be possible for paralysis victims to recover movements and sensation to some degree, via treatment and rehabilitation.
Paralysis in the legs and arms is called quadriplegia. Paralysis in the body’s lower half (under the midsection) is called paraplegia.
Quadriplegia means the nerve injury happens above the first thoracic spinal nerve and anywhere up to the victim’s neck. This can affect movement of the legs, arms and trunk, or torso, as well as impacting the respiratory system and causing sexual, bowel and bladder dysfunction.
Also called tetrapelgia, quadriplegia often occurs due to severe injury to the neck or the upper spine.
Paraplegia means sensation and motor functioning are impaired for the lower half of the body.
Hemiplegia means there’s paralysis of the muscles of the face, leg and arm on one side of the body, usually due to an injury to the opposite side of the brain such as a stroke.
Treatments for paralysis can include a number of different surgical techniques to treat damages to the nerves. Victims also may receive rehabilitation, which can come with the help of rehab nurses, physical therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, vocational therapists and occupational therapists.
Patients also may be able to use equipment to enhance breathing and stimulate muscles, as well as learn to use a wheelchair.
Since blood clots can arise with paralysis, physicians can prescribe blood-thinning drugs or may have patients wear compression stockings, especially if they are at risk of DVT or deep vein thrombosis.
Patients with respiratory trouble can get a ventilator to assist breathing and remove secretions, or they may have a tracheostomy, with a tube inserted in the trachea.
Physicians also can provide surgery, catheterization or medications to treat bladder dysfunction.
Psychological troubles also may arise, including depression, which is a medical condition and is common among paralysis victims. For them, help can be found via professional counseling, support groups and antidepressant medications.
Also, an innovative new treatment is arising which has enabled some patients to regain sensation and movement without invasive surgery. Known as transcutaneous stimulation, it involves delivering electrical current through the spine via electrodes on the patient’s lower back.
Paralysis Costs and Injury Lawsuit
The treatments named above can be extremely costly and may involve a lifetime of commitment, including in-home care.
Paraplegia victims may need to use a wheelchair for the remainder of their lives, and this can impact their employment chances as well as limit their movements in the world at large.
Quadriplegia victims may need help for many basic tasks of life, as well as require special equipment such as a respiratory just to stay alive.
The heavy tolls taken by paralysis compel victims of paralysis in a car wreck to seek payments for their medical and rehabilitation bills, their lost present to future wages and their pain and suffering.