The diagnosis of paralysis following an accidental injury is frightening to accident victims and their families. Despite the great advancements made in medicine, particularly in microsurgery and diagnostic imaging of the spine and spinal cord, it is often months later before the final extent of paralysis can be determined.
Paralysis is due to a disruption of the nerve cells in the spinal cord. This disruption blocks electrical impulses arising in the brain that normally travel down the cord to the nerve cells in the rest of the body. These nerve cells are responsible for movement and also carry information back to the brain.
Injuries to the spinal column, the bones of the neck and back and the discs that separate the bones from one another, almost always accompany paralysis. An injury can cause the bones and discs to become displaced and either press against the spinal cord or even cut completely through the cord itself. Penetrating injuries such as gunshots, knife wounds, and those caused by shrapnel from explosions are usually responsible for cutting injuries to the spine and spinal cord. In some cases, surgery can relieve pressure on the cord and a slow recovery of some function is possible, Unfortunately, if the cord is cut entirely or even partially, the chances of recovery from paralysis are destitute.
Paralysis after an accident means that the victim will require a lifetime of medical care, assistive technologies (wheelchairs, lifts, ramps, etc. by an accident) and modifications to his or her living area to accommodate these technologies. Medical expenses can soon exhaust the lifetime benefits of most health insurance policies, and gaining disability benefits under Social Security can often take over a year.
Those who have been involving in an accident, and their families, should contact an attorney practicing personal injury law as soon as possible after the accident occurs to discuss the victim’s legal options regarding compensation for injuries and future medical expenses and other costs that will eventually arise. Retaining the services of a personal injury lawyer is the only way to assure that the people living with paralysis will have their legal rights to compensation for their injuries protected.