Catastrophic injuries are life-altering. They include severe traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb, or conditions such as paralysis. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation reports that nearly one in 50 people in the U.S. lives with some form of paralysis – that is, about 5.4 million people.
The leading causes of paralysis include stroke, injuries to the spine, and multiple sclerosis. Only 41.8% of those with paralysis are able to work, and the cost to their families is devastating. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, you may be owed compensation for those injuries.
Paralysis is a loss of muscle function when there is a lack of communication between the brain and muscles. Essentially, the signals or messages that the brain sends are not being transmitted. Paralysis may be:
Partial paralysis is further classified as being localized, when it involves only one area or part, or generalized. Localized paralysis commonly impacts specific areas such as the hands, feet, face, or vocal cords. Generalized paralysis is classified as follows:
Spinal cord injuries are a leading cause of paralysis. This is because the spinal cord is the primary pathway for transmitting information between the brain and the body’s muscles. If it is damaged, the nerves may lose their function and cause problems that are mental and emotional in addition to physical. The location of the damage to the spinal cord, and its severity, impact a person’s level of ability to control the muscles beneath that location.
Here are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries:
As a side note, alcohol is a potentially contributing factor in about 25% of injuries.
After a potential injury, the spine needs to be immobilized and the injury diagnosed. Traction may be used to better stabilize the spine, but should only be done by trained medical professionals.
Diagnosing these injuries involves various types of scanning or imaging methods. The most basic way to examine the spine is with an X-ray, which will generally show damage to the spinal column. For a closer, more detailed assessment, either a computerized tomography scan (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be employed.
Recovering from a spinal injury, if possible, requires the assistance of several types of medical professionals. If the injury is temporary, a victim may require a neck collar and a special bed until healed. There are also various surgical options available, particularly if the victim has fragments of bone that require removal. Afterward, rehabilitation would be focused on strengthening the muscles in the damaged region, improving motor skills, and working to manage day-to-day tasks through occupational therapy. In addition, physical therapy can be used and would include exercise, stretching, heat, and massage. Common assistive devices for a spinal injury victim, either long-term or short-term, include wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and supportive braces.
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In addition, your spouse may have a claim for:
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