Catastrophic Injuries Involving Paralysis
Catastrophic injuries of all kinds are incredibly devastating and life altering for victims and their loved ones. Injuries involving paralysis can be especially difficult for patients to adapt to. There are many different forms of paralysis and degrees of severity. Whether you’re suffering from a lower spinal cord injury that impacts your mobility or you’re caring for a loved one who is totally bedridden due to quadriplegia, a catastrophic injury involving paralysis is overwhelming, to say the least.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Just about any injury occurring to the spinal cord can result in some form of paralysis. Depending upon the severity of the injury happened and what area of the spine was impacted, injuries can vary greatly. Since no two injuries are alike, only you and your doctor can discuss lifetime changes, limitations and the impact this type of injury will have on your day-to-day life. Whether you need around-the-clock care or additional medical procedures, living with a catastrophic injury of the spinal cord is complicated. Physical therapy is an important part of life for patients who have suffered from a spinal cord injury.
Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Anterior Cord Syndrome- Involves damage to the front of the spinal cord. Can involve loss of sensation below the level of the injury.
- Central Cord Syndrome- Involves damage to the middle or center of the spinal cord. Can involve loss of function to arms and potentially legs.
- Posterior Cord Syndrome- Involves damage to the back of the spinal cord. Victims may experience coordination difficulties.
- Brown-Séuard Syndrome- Involves damage to one side of the spinal cord. Typically impacts mobility for the affected side.
In addition to the different ways that spinal cords can become injured, there are also different types and degrees of paralysis. In some cases, physical therapy can help patients to regain some of their mobility and independence, but every injury is different.
Types of Paralysis
- Monoplegia- Impacts one limb
- Hemiplegia- Impacts the arm and leg on one side of the body
- Paraplegia- Both legs, and sometimes portions of the lower body, including the pelvic region, are impacted
- Quadriplegia- Arms and legs are both impacted, chest muscles and abdominal area may also be impacted
- Spasticity- Results in tight and stiff muscles
- Dysphagia- Impacts the muscles of the throat
Quadriplegia is undoubtedly the most severe form of paralysis. The arms and legs are both paralyzed, and typically, abdominal and chest muscles are also affected. There are different degrees or levels of paralysis. C1 and C2 are typically the most severe. Injuries classified C4 and above typically require a mechanical ventilator or some other type of special breathing assistance.
Paraplegia happens when an injury occurs below the first thoracic vertebrae in the upper back area. This type of injury usually results in paralysis confined to the legs. Severe injuries can also impact movement in the pelvic area and into the abdomen. A patient suffering from this type of paralysis retains the use of their arms and hands, but is most typically confined to a wheel chair or other mobility device.
Common Causes of Paralysis
- Car accidents
- On-the-job accidents
- Sports-related accidents
- Trampoline accidents
- Horseback riding accidents
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Defective products
- Medical errors
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
Depending upon the severity and type of spinal cord injury, patients can be facing a wide variety of lifelong impacts to their daily routines. The most severe injuries, where quadriplegia is a result, will require almost around-the-clock care. Even people who suffer from less severe spinal cord injuries have their worlds turned upside down.
Although a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) doesn’t necessarily mean that a spinal cord injury with paralysis occurred, it’s not uncommon to have the two injuries happen together. Victims who have been injured in car accidents, motorcycle accidents and pedestrian accidents may suffer from a TBI and a spinal cord injury at the same time. In addition to dealing with the reality of life without full use of your limbs, you might also be suffering from an injury that impacts your cognitive skills as well. In addition to physical therapy, patients might also need to attend regular mental health appointments as well. TBI’s can leave victims with memory loss, emotional problems and cognitive difficulties. Pair those issues with a spinal cord injury, and you’ve got more than most families are equipped to handle.
If your loved one has suffered from a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury due to somebody else’s negligence, contact the experienced team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC for a case consultation today.
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