Most people are familiar with the basic concept of paralysis—an inability to move. However, there are several forms of paralysis that can result from a variety of injuries or conditions. Here’s what you need to know about paralysis and the two most recognizable forms of this condition—paraplegia and quadriplegia.
What is Paralysis?
It is important to clarify some common misconceptions about paralysis:
- Paralysis can be temporary or permanent
- Paralysis can affect movement, sensation, or the ability to control bodily functions
- Paralysis is most often related to nerve damage, and not to direct injury to an affected body part. For example, paralysis of the legs is more often relate to damage to the spinal cord, and not to an injury to the leg itself.
While the brain is the data storage and processing center of the nervous system, the spinal cord is the most important system in relaying messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Disruptions to this communication system are what most commonly contribute to paralysis.
Paralysis is mostly related to one of three possible causes:
- The brain is unable to receive or communicate signals to other areas of the body due to an injury or damage to the brain itself.
- The brain is unable to receive or communicate signals to other areas of the body due to an injury or damage to the spinal cord.
- The brain can receive signals from other parts of the body—for example, it is able to sense touch or other sensations in the body—however, it is unable to communicate an effective response due to an injury in the spinal cord.
What Causes Paralysis?
According to a comprehensive 2013 study conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, nearly 5.5 million Americans suffer from some form of paralysis.
The leading causes of paralysis are:
- Stroke (33.7%)
- Spinal cord injury (27.3%)
- Multiple sclerosis (18.6%)The leading causes of spinal cord injuries are:
The leading causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Motor vehicle accidents (26.7%)
- Physical labor (21.4%)
- Fall (11.4%)
What are Paraplegia Injuries?
Paraplegia refers to paralysis below the waist. This form of paralysis usually affects both legs and the hips, and can impact movement, elimination, and sexual functions—however, many paraplegia patients only suffer impairment in one or two of these areas, and the systems and degree of impairment for a particular patient can vary from day to day.
Paraplegia is usually caused by injury or damage to the spinal cord in the thoracic, sacral, or lumbar regions—in other words, the areas in the middle- and lower-back.
What are Quadriplegia Injuries?
Quadriplegia refers to paralysis that affects all four limbs and the torso. Also referred to as ‘tetraplegia,’ quadriplegia is usually caused by injury or damage to the spinal cord in the cervical spine—the area around the neck and upper-back. Higher injuries to the upper neck (vertebrae C1-C4) typically have a greater impact on arm movement, however all quadriplegics have or have had impacts on finger and hand movement.
As with paraplegia, the affected functions and degree of impairment varies between quadriplegics and can vary from day to day for any individual quadriplegic.
Contact a Paraplegia/Quadriplegia Accident Lawyer
All forms of paralysis are, typically, treated with physical therapy, and some patients are able to make a full recovery. Unfortunately, many paralysis patients are permanently impaired, and the mechanisms of nerve regeneration remain mysterious to the research and medical communities.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an injury that has left you partially or fully paralyzed, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact a seasoned paraplegia or quadriplegia injury lawyer to discuss your options for legal recourse. The paralysis attorneys at The Dominguez Firm have helped paralyzed victims of car accidents, slip-and-falls, and workplace accidents all around the greater Los Angeles area to get justice for their injuries. If there’s no recovery, there’s no fee. Call our firm today for a free consultation about your case at (800) 818-1818.
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