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PARALYSIS & SPINAL CORD INJURIES

An injury to the spinal cord can cause chronic pain or paralysis, which is a loss of function in injured extremities, limbs, or body systems. Paralysis significantly reduces a victim’s quality of life and may have life-threatening complications.

Spinal cord injury victims face extensive medical care and rehabilitation, vocational retraining, and the need for adaptive equipment or personal assistance that can cost millions of dollars in many cases.

Spinal Cord Injuries & Paralysis

The spinal cord links the brain to nerves throughout the body. Vertebrae – the bones that make up the spinal column or backbone – protect the soft tissue of the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury, such as direct trauma to the spinal cord or damage to vertebrae that affects the spinal cord, can cause paralysis.

Symptoms of paralysis appear below the point on the spinal column where the spinal cord was been damaged. Spinal cord injuries are described as “complete,” with the total loss of feeling and control over body parts below the point of injury, or “incomplete,” which means there is some sensation or ability to move.

Spinal Cord Injuries & Paralysis

The spinal cord links the brain to nerves throughout the body. Vertebrae – the bones that make up the spinal column or backbone – protect the soft tissue of the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury, such as direct trauma to the spinal cord or damage to vertebrae that affects the spinal cord, can cause paralysis.

Symptoms of paralysis appear below the point on the spinal column where the spinal cord was been damaged. Spinal cord injuries are described as “complete,” with the total loss of feeling and control over body parts below the point of injury, or “incomplete,” which means there is some sensation or ability to move.

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Causes and Effects of Spinal Cord Injury & Paralysis

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), spinal cord injuries most frequently occur in:

  • Motor vehicle accidents.
  • Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents.
  • Impact sports (football, soccer, rugby) and diving into shallow water.
  • Violent assaults, particularly gunshot wounds.

Depending on their level of paralysis, accident victims may need assistance that includes a walker, wheelchair, hospital bed, breathing assistance (ventilator), and personal care for help with such activities as grooming, feeding, and toileting.

The NSCISC indicates that someone with “incomplete motor function [paralysis] at any level” faces lifetime medical and living expenses of more than $1 million for a 50-year-old patient or more than $1.5 million for a patient who is 25 years old when injured. A tetraplegia patient could face more than $2.5 million in lifetime coasts if he or she is 50 years old when injured or $4.6 million if he or she is 25 when paralyzed. The total cost of living with paralysis – including lost earnings, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life – usually far exceeds these figures.

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