Paraplegia (or paralysis) is the condition in which the lower half of the body, including the legs, is paralyzed. In most cases, paraplegia happens as the result of a lower spinal cord injury from an accident. Such injuries occur most commonly in car and motorcycle accidents. Every year 11,000 people become paraplegics as the result of spinal cord injuries. While some may experience partial recovery from lower body paralysis, long term consequences can be devastating, usually confining the victim to a wheelchair.
The spinal cord is a delicate nerve bundle that runs from the base of your head to your lower back. That cord is protected by spinal bones called vertebrae. The spinal cord’s function is to relay instructions regarding movement, touch and other senses from your brain throughout your body. When the spinal cord is damaged, these messages are stopped. Where the cord is damaged is of extreme importance, since communication is disrupted downward from the point of contact. Paraplegia occurs when the spine is damaged in the mid to lower region, known as thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions.
Paralysis of the Lower Body: Causes
A traumatic event which causes damage to or severing of the spinal cord is the most common cause of paraplegia. A car crash, motorcycle accident or fall can cause such harm to the spine. Other traumas which result in paralysis include gunshot wounds and sports-related accidents. Non-traumas, such as tumors, diseases and congenital (from birth) conditions which affect the spinal cord, can also cause paraplegia. Lower body paralysis can happen at any age, however statistics show that people aged 31 to 40 are the most commonly stricken.
Paraplegia: Spinal Cord Injury Characteristics
The range and severity of paralysis depends greatly on the location and severity of the injury. In a complete severing of the spinal cord, complete paralysis results from the severed point down. In injuries where the cord is only partially severed, some movement or feeling may remain. In still other cases, the damaged or severed spinal cord is further impeded by broken vertebrae or other debris pressing against it. Relief of the pressure may result in some movement or feeling recovery.
Paraplegic Symptoms and Outcomes
In paraplegia, loss of feeling, movement and reflexes usually happens immediately after injury. Most recovery occurs in the first 6 months. Diagnosis of the extent the injury and resulting paralysis is assessed and monitored by physicians with tests, x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds and/or MRI’s. Potential consequences of paraplegia include:
• Partial to complete paralysis of any part of the lower body, including legs and internal organs
• Sexual dysfunction
• Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
• Wheelchair confinement or use of other supportive devices
• Pressure sores, pneumonia or thrombosis, as complications from confinement
Due to the severity of paraplegia, both physical and psychological therapies are usually recommended. Rehabilitation is normally extensive and ongoing. The recovery process includes exercising, dietary management, learning and adjusting to a new way of functioning, and maintaining a positive outlook.
If you or someone close to you has suffered paraplegia as the result of an accident in California, you should seek the advice of an experienced and competent attorney.
If you or someone close to you has been injured, or suffered paralysis contact an experienced and successful attorney to help assess your rights. With over 29 years of experience, the Simon Law Group will provide a free and confidential consultation when you call 480-745-2450 or click on “Contact Our Firm” and we will E-mail you shortly. Please let us help you during this painful and difficult time.
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