Paralysis happens when an injury or illness causes damage to the brain, the spinal cord, or the nerves at the end of the spinal cord. Spinal cord injury and stroke were the two top causes of paralysis in 2013, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
What You Need to Know About Stroke and Paralysis
How does paralysis happen? The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation states that stroke can cause paralysis, often on only one side of the body. Someone can have paralysis of the face, arm, leg, or one side of their entire body. Bleeding in the brain or blocked blood flow to the brain can cause areas of the brain to die within minutes from a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
When an area of the brain gets damaged, the brain cannot move the body part or perform the function assigned to that region. When the right half of the brain gets damaged, paralysis can show up on the left side of the body. Left hemisphere brain damage can paralyze the right side of the body.
What You Need to Know About Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis
The spinal cord is the collection of nerves that runs from the brain through the spinal canal (vertebrae or bones of the spine) down the back of the neck and back. The nerves exit the spine at designated points to the arms, legs, chest, and other body parts. If the spinal cord gets injured, a person can suffer paralysis in the areas affected by that segment of the spinal cord and the regions below the injury.
How does paralysis happen in regard to spinal cord injuries? Paralysis can happen when the spinal cord gets severed, but in most cases, the patient experiences a loss of function from bruising of the spinal cord without any severed nerves. Sometimes the initial injury does not cause paralysis, but secondary events cause further damage to the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis. Swelling, blood clots, and loss of oxygen are some potential secondary events.
Other Causes of Paralysis
Nerves are fragile structures. Here are some examples of diseases that can cause paralysis:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Cerebral palsy
- Friedrich’s ataxia
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spina bifida
Also, brachial plexus injury, spinal tumors, and genetic defects of the circulatory system can cause paralysis.
Paralysis From a Spinal Cord Injury Can Affect Some or All of the Body
If you have paralysis of the legs, pelvic organs, and trunk, the medical term is paraplegia. The loss of function can encompass all three areas or parts of them. Quadriplegia, also called tetraplegia, involves loss of function of every body system below the neck. Your legs, pelvic organs, trunk, and arms are all paralyzed.
Classifications of Spinal Cord Damage
If you have any function below the point of injury, your spinal cord damage is incomplete. You might still be able to move your leg or foot (motor function), for example. Some people with an incomplete spinal cord injury cannot move certain body parts, but he or she may still have sensation in some affected areas. He or she may feel heat, cold, or a pinprick.
If you have total loss of all motor and sensory function below the level of injury, you have a complete spinal cord injury.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
If you have a spinal cord injury, you should get immediate medical attention to prevent additional damage and paralysis. Do not move. Have someone call 911 and stay as still as possible. If you believe someone you know has suffered a spinal cord injury, keep him or her still and call 911.
Mayo Clinic reports that the symptoms of spinal cord injury include:
- Severe pain or pressure in your back, head, or neck
- Being unable to move or coordinate an area of the body
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness in your toes, feet, fingers, or hands
- Loss of feeling in your hands or feet
- Breathing is a struggle
- An unusual twist in your back or neck after an injury
- Struggling to walk or maintain balance
- Loss of control of the bladder or bowels
Experiencing any of these symptoms after an injury constitutes a medical emergency. For the best chance of recovery, get medical treatment at once.
You May Qualify for Damages After Paralysis
After we establish that someone’s negligence caused your injury, you may be eligible to pursue money damages for your losses. Every case is different. We cannot determine the value of your claim until after we talk with you and investigate your situation. Your compensation could cover things like:
- Medical expenses, including the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgery, doctors, prescription drugs, diagnostic testing, lab tests, and physical therapy.
- Lost income, for the time you missed from work without pay.
- The loss of potential income caused by decreased earning capacity.
- Intangible losses, like disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Pintas & Mullins handles severe injury cases. We deliver hands-on, personal attention to our clients. Call us today at (888) 808-5977 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.