Catastrophic Injury Resulting in Paralysis Automobile accidents, sports accidents, falls and medical malpractice are just a few of the causes of injuries that can result in paralysis. Any type of paralysis may be a short or long term result of an injury. If the paralysis is permanent, the cost to care and provide for the injured individual can be extensive, including medical costs, physical and occupational therapy, other specialists and loss of wages. There can also be a significant loss to quality of life to you and your loved ones. If this has happened to you, contact the law offices of Rob Kornfeld for a free consultation today. What is Paralysis? Paralysis is the loss of strength in a limb or muscle group, resulting in limited motion or mobility or complete loss of use of that limb. Paralysis is the result of damage to nerve cells that run from the brain to the spinal cord to the muscles. How severe the paralysis is depends on the location of the injury. The following are different forms of paralysis: Paraplegia – This means that both legs are partially or completely paralyzed Quadriplegia – This means that both legs and arms are paralyzed Monoplegia – This means that just one limb is paralyzed Diplegia – This means the same region of the body on both sides is paralyzed Hemiplegia – This means that one side of the body is paralyzed Following are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we get about paralysis: What is the primary cause of paralysis and quadriplegia? Some forms of paralysis are caused by a stroke. Those not caused by stroke are caused by injury to the spinal cord. Almost all quadriplegic cases are the result of a spinal cord injury but can also be caused by stroke, bleeds in the brain or brain injury. Brain injuries may be caused by oxygen deprivation, which can lead to paralysis or quadriplegia. What is a spinal cord injury (SCI)? The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that conducts information from the brain to the rest of the body and from the body back to the brain. Some nerves relate to sensation, motor function and maintaining involuntary bodily functions such as breathing. This bundle of nerves is encased in the bony spinal column. If the spine is broken, the spinal cord can suffer a traumatic injury which can result in loss of function and feeling when these nerves are damaged. What are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries? Most of the spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis and quadriplegia are caused by accidents – most by automobile accidents. Sporting injuries also rank high on the list followed by incidences of violence such as stabbing or shooting and others are the result of falls. Construction site injuries are often a common cause for spinal cord injuries. Is there any group that is at higher risk for a spinal injury? Yes. Men between ages 16 and 30 are far more likely to have a spinal injury. There are 10,000-12,000 spinal cord injuries each year and 80% involve men in this age range. What are the chances of recovering from a spinal cord injury? While treatments have become more effective at minimizing the effects of spinal cord injuries, many people do not recover fully from this type of injury. When paralysis involves all four limbs, as with quadriplegia, the long term costs are considerable. Even in cases of paraplegia, where the use of the upper body is retained, assistance may still be needed. Assessment of future medical costs is an important part of any injury and damage analysis when making a legal claim. Are there different degrees of paralysis after a spinal cord injury? Yes, there are. If the injury is complete, the victim will have no ability to move or feel anything below the damaged area in the spinal column. Both sides of the body will be affected equally. If the injury is incomplete, limited movement and feeling may be experienced. One side of the body may function more effectively than the other side. Can surgery help? Currently there is no surgical technique available to restore the spinal cord. Surgery can help relieve pressure or stabilize the spine so that no further injury occurs, but only time will tell if the surgery has helped to restore partial function or not. What are some of the effects of quadriplegia and paraplegia? There are many medical complications that can follow a spinal cord injury including: Spastic muscles – This occurs when the muscles tighten in abnormal positions and is quite common. In cases where there is still limited movement, there can be considerable pain. Limp muscles – This occurs when muscles can no longer contract. Physical therapy can help to maintain muscle tone and special equipment may be worn to support the joints. Chronic pain – Damage to nerves can cause neurons to rapid fire causing intense pain despite the lack of sensation in damaged limbs. Bladder and bowel dysfunction – This is a constant concern, especially for complete spinal injuries, but can also be an issue for those with partial spinal injuries. Heart irregularities – This and other heart problems, including blood clots, are a serious concern and can occur in many paralysis cases. Low blood pressure – This is most commonly associated with quadriplegia and can result in light-headedness, dizziness and/or faintness. Respiratory problems – This is especially common with quadriplegia and includes an increased risk of pneumonia because it’s difficult to fully inhale and exhale allowing fluids to build up. What are some of the long-term care issues for a quadriplegic or paraplegia? Most of the symptoms of quadriplegia and paraplegia are permanent issues that require ongoing treatment including some or a combination of these: Physical and occupational therapy – This can help victims recover the best quality of life possible within the limitations of their paralysis and includes adapting daily activities. Bowel and bladder programs – These often need to be developed to minimize the risk of bladder infections and to establish and maintain a healthy bowel function. Drug therapy – This can help manage pain, control blood pressure and optimize circulation, prolong life and keep the victim as healthy as possible as long as possible. Mental health care – Therapy can be vital for both victim and family to develop coping mechanisms and deal with the trauma associated with full or partial paralysis. Home health care – Depending on the degree of paralysis, in-home care providers may be needed for personal maintenance, such as bathing, hair care, etc. What kind of damages can I seek as a paralysis and/or quadriplegic victim? If your injury was caused in a motor vehicle accident, as the result of an assault, through medical malpractice, because a product was defective or due to the negligence of another, it is common to seek compensation for both current medical expenses and potential future damages (lost income, cost of long-term care, home modifications, transportation, life care plan, loss of opportunity to enjoy life, loss of consortium by a loved one, etc.). Are there any other accident claims that can result in legal settlements? If a school district fails to exercise due oversight of school sponsored activities, an accident occurring on the campus or in connection with the school activity may be grounds for a case. If a school sponsors an activity, adult supervision should be expected. Does this mean that if an accident happens at school, that I can always sue? Some activities are inherently more risky than others. For example, a gymnastics program has a higher risk level than volleyball program. The issue involved has to do with appropriate supervision. While you can expect any medical expenses related to an accident to be covered by school insurance policies, long-term compensation isn’t always the norm. If you were left with partial or total paralysis from an accident, medical malpractice, defective product or some other circumstance that was done to you by another, contact the law offices of Rob Kornfeld today. Rob has experience in handling catastrophic injury cases involving paralysis and life care plans and has a track record of winning significant settlements for victims. Call us at (425) 893-8989 to schedule a free consultation or case evaluation over the telephone, by e-mail or in person at a location convenient for you, either at our main office, a satellite meeting location, in your home or at the hospital.