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Paraplegia injuries result from damage to the spinal cord. Paraplegia happens when you experience paralysis in your lower limbs and may also affect your abdomen.
Doctors cannot cure paraplegia. You could regain a degree of function in your lower body if some nerve connections remain intact. But in most cases, you will not regain 100% of the motor control and sensation in your legs after paralysis.
Here is some information about the causes and effects of paraplegia and the compensation you can recover for your injuries.
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The spinal cord contains bundles of nerves. These nerves carry electrical signals from the brain to the body and vice versa. These signals control the muscles and organs of the body and carry sensory information from the body to the brain.
Some of these signals are voluntary. For example, your brain sends a signal to your legs when you want to walk. Other signals are involuntary. Your stomach sends a signal to your brain when it is empty.
Paralysis happens when the signals between the brain and body become disrupted due to a spinal cord injury. Paraplegia happens when the nerves carrying signals between your lower body and brain become damaged.
Diseases like cancer can cause paraplegia. But most cases of paraplegia result from trauma.
Trauma can disrupt the spinal cord and cause paraplegia in a few ways:
Trauma can cause the vertebrae and discs in your spine to misalign. If they slip far enough out of place, they can compress the spinal cord and stop the signals from traveling between your brain and lower body.
Traumatic injuries can sever the spinal cord. This usually happens due to severe dislocation of a vertebra or disc. It can also happen when pieces from a fractured vertebra enter the spinal canal and sever the spinal cord.
A spinal cord injury can destroy the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves in the spinal cord.
The myelin sheath insulates the nerves the same way that a plastic sheath insulates electric wires. Without this sheath, the nerve signals become lost. Trauma can cause the myelin to become inflamed. Inflammation can even destroy the myelin.
Any accident that injures the back or neck can result in paraplegia. Some examples of accidents that can expose you to a risk of paraplegia include:
The whipping motion you experience in a car accident may cause your spine to hyperextend and compress. This violent action can fracture vertebrae and crush discs.
When a disc or vertebrae protrudes into the spinal canal, it can compress or sever the spinal cord. It can also inflame the myelin insulation covering the nerves of the spinal cord.
Workplaces expose employees to many risks that can result in spinal cord injuries. Falls from a height and slip and falls make up the most common workplace accidents. An impact with the ground can fracture vertebrae and compress discs.
Spinal cord injuries can also result from objects that penetrate the spine. For example, if you fall from a roof, you could hit a scaffold or another object as you fall. This object could tear into your body, severing your spinal cord.
Bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents pose a high risk of back and neck injuries. When a car hits a cyclist or pedestrian, their unprotected body will absorb an enormous amount of energy. This energy can fracture or dislocate vertebrae and discs. The cyclist or pedestrian may then strike the pavement, resulting in more injuries that can damage the spinal cord.
Doctors classify paraplegia injuries into two categories:
In complete paraplegia, the trauma has severed the spinal cord. As a result, no nerves run from the brain to the lower body. Doctors currently have no way to repair this kind of spinal cord injury, which means that the patient will have permanent paralysis.
A patient has incomplete paraplegia when the trauma only partially severs the spinal cord. As a result, some nerve connections between the brain and the lower body remain intact.
In some cases, this means that the patient could recover some sensations and motor control. But in most cases, the patient will not recover 100% of their pre-accident nerve function.
The American Spinal Injury Association classifies paraplegia into five grades. Doctors grade an injury based on the lowest point on your body in which you have muscle control and can sense a pinprick.
Complete paraplegia is classified as Grade A. Patients with Grade A paraplegia have no muscle control or sensation in their legs. They also have no bladder or bowel control.
The most severe classification of incomplete paraplegia is Grade B. Patients with Grade B paraplegia can feel a pinprick below their injury but have no muscle control. They usually lack bladder and bowel control.
In Grade C paraplegia, patients have sensation and movement below their injury, but their nerve damage prevents them from moving their muscles against gravity. For example, patients with Grade C paraplegia cannot lift their legs.
Grade D paraplegia means that the patient has sensation and movement below their injury. In Grade D injuries, the patient can move at least half their muscles against gravity.
A Grade E injury leaves the patient with normal sensation and movement in their lower body.
Paraplegia injuries could entitle you to substantial compensation. In most cases of paraplegia, the paralysis is permanent. This means that you could face a severe loss of income.
Even in cases of incomplete paraplegia, your injury could substantially reduce your earning capacity. If you need to change jobs or quit working, you can claim your lost income as damages.
Your damages will also include your past and future medical expenses. If you require ongoing therapy and treatment, you could have substantial medical expenses.
Finally, your damages can include pain and suffering. These damages compensate you for the diminishment in your quality of life caused by your injury. From mental anguish to loss of activities, paralysis could substantially reduce your quality of life.
Contact the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel, LLC to discuss your paraplegia injury and the compensation you may be able to recover. Our New York City personal injury lawyer will listen to your and help you to decide on your next steps.
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