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Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney / Blog / Personal Injury / Paralysis Injuries: What Are They And How Do They Happen?

Paralysis Injuries: What Are They And How Do They Happen?


Short of death itself, the one injury that most people fear the most, is paralysis. Paralysis is considered to be, perhaps, the most catastrophic injury that someone can sustain in an accident that isn’t considered fatal.

But how does paralysis happen? What happens to the human body, to cause paralysis?

Paralysis Can Differ

Although we use the term paralysis, not all paralysis is the same, and not all is even fully permanent. In many cases, paralysis will be temporary, and in time, some, if not all degree of functioning, will return.

Studies have shown that the quicker the victim can get medical attention, and the quicker the victim can commence physical therapy, the more the victim can recover some degree of functionality.

Where Does Paralysis Happen?

Paralysis also tends to happen below the site of the injury or impact. So, assuming an injury to the lower back lumbar spine, the paralysis may be to the lower extremities, whereas paralysis to the cervical spine can result in full body quadriplegia and reliance on a ventilator.

It is so exact that the difference in injury site—say, for example, damage to the C4 vertebrae as opposed to C3 – can be the difference between some loss of arm function and full body paralysis.

The Anatomy of the Spine

Your spine is actually a column of delicate nerves. Given that our backs are so exposed to the world and any impact that may happen on our backs, for protection the spine runs through a column of bony structures, called vertebrae. Those are the hard bones you feel running up and down your back. Between those vertebrae, in order to allow your back to move, are jelly like sacs or discs.

Paralysis happens when there is such an impact to the back, that either the vertebrae, or the discs between them, become dislodged and jut out of place. They can become so dislodged, that they push into, impinge upon, or outright sever, the nerves of the spinal cord.

In fact, any kind of swelling in the back area after an accident, can push internal structures into spinal nerves causing paralysis. Once swelling subsides, some function may be regained. Of course, vertebrae or discs won’t move back on their own, thus requiring surgery.

Surgery immediately following a spinal incident usually focuses on immediately moving whatever is intruding on the spinal column, out of the way.

But the spinal nerves don’t have to be completely severed for paralysis to occur. Any damage to the nerve cells can result in paralysis.  Loss of oxygen can even cause paralysis, as it can injure nerves in the spinal column.

Significant Damages

Paralysis injuries can mean significant damages for victims. They may need a lifetime of care, home and vehicle accommodations, assistant medical devices, and may also develop opportunistic diseases, like arthritis, ulcers, or infections, and often are related to paralysis.

Contact our Rhode Island personal injury lawyers at Robert E. Craven & Associates at 401-453-2700 today if you have had a back injury, or sustained paralysis or other significant injury because of an accident of any kind.



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