Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits in North Carolina
Spinal Injuries & Paralysis
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.
Types of Paralysis
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: When some muscles are still able to be controlled.
- Complete: A total inability to move the affected muscles.
- Temporary or permanent: With temporary paralysis, the ability to control muscles returns to some degree. Not so with permanent paralysis.
- Spastic or flaccid: Spastic muscles are tight, rigid, and tend to “jerk” (spasm); flaccid muscles shrink and sag.
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:
- Monoplegia: One limb is affected, such as a leg.
- Hemiplegia: One side of the body is affected, such as the left arm and left leg.
- Paraplegia: Affects the lower extremities – both legs.
- Quadriplegia: Affects both of the arms and both of the legs.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
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:
- Vehicle accidents: Crashes involving automobiles and motorcycles account for almost half of spinal injuries in the U.S.
- Falls: Falls cause spinal injuries about 15% of the time, most commonly among those over 65 years of age.
- Violence: Incidents involving knives, guns, or physical assault account for about 12% of cases.
- Sports and recreation: Account for roughly 10% of cases. Christopher Reeve’s horse-riding accident would be considered a recreational cause of spinal injury and consequent paralysis.
As a side note, alcohol is a potentially contributing factor in about 25% of injuries.
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