What Is Spinal Paralysis?

The spine, commonly referred to as your backbone, is a linked column of bones known as vertebrae running from the head down to the lower back. The spine protects your spinal cord, which is an extension of the central nervous system.

Spinal cord injuries affect 15,000 Americans every year, with nearly 10,000 people experiencing permanent paralysis. The types of paralysis injuries are wide ranging, from losing feeling in your legs, to complete paralysis (quadriplegia). Paralysis injuries devastate not just the person who’s hurt – they can overwhelm their entire family.

Paralysis is the loss of voluntary muscle function of one or more muscle groups due to damage sustained in the central nervous system. The condition can be temporary or permanent, and how the paralysis affects your body will depend on the type of injury and which area of the body was harmed. Paralysis is a catastrophic injury that can leave you unable to move your legs, one side of your body, or all four limbs.

If you or a loved one has been left paralyzed by an accident, contact the New York injury lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353.

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Causes and Symptoms of Spinal Paralysis

Spinal cord injuries result from physical trauma. Common causes for people becoming paralyzed with spinal injuries include:

Paralysis is caused by a brain injury, spinal cord injury, or a neurological condition. Many spinal injuries are because of another person or group's negligent actions.

Symptoms of spinal paralysis include:

  • Reduced, altered, or lost physical sensations
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of fertility
  • Coughing
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Pain or stinging sensations
  • Spasms or exaggerated reflexes
  • Secretions from the lungs
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Difficulty breathing

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Types and Levels of Paralysis

Most common spinal cord injuries like whiplash may be temporary, lasting a few weeks before healing. A more serious injury to your spine that could leave you paralyzed. Types of paralysis include:

  • Monoplegia is the paralysis of one limb, like a leg or an arm. Monoplegia is caused by damage to specific parts of the spine and nervous system.
  • Diplegia affects the same part of both sides of your body (both arms, both sides of the face, etc.). Diplegia is usually a sign of brain damage caused by cerebral palsy.
  • Hemiplegia paralyzes one side of the body. It's almost always caused by brain damage on the side of your body opposite the paralysis. Strokes often lead to hemiplegic.
  • Paraplegia affects both legs. Paraplegia is usually caused by a serious injury to the lower spinal cord.
  • Quadriplegia strikes all four limbs and your chest, basically your entire body below the shoulders. Quadriplegia is caused by severe damage to your spinal cord above the shoulders.

An incomplete spinal cord injury results in partial damage to the area of the spine affected by trauma. A person with this type of injury may be able to make partial movements and have some sensory function in the affected region.

A complete spinal cord injury causes paralysis. This produces a total loss of motor and sensory function below the level of the injury.

There are three different levels of spinal cord injuries, depending on the region of the spine where they occur. Injuries to these areas result in the following types of injuries:

  • Cervical spinal cord injuries occur in the head and neck.
  • Thoracic spinal cord injuries occur along the upper and middle part of the back.
  • Lumbar spinal cord injuries occur in the lowest level of the spine.

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Treatment for Paralysis

The only treatment for paralysis is a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation includes:

  • Physical therapy is used to help train muscles that still function. It builds the muscle around the injury. A physical therapist can work with people using braces, canes, or wheelchairs.
  • Occupational therapy focuses on daily activities like eating and bathing. It helps injured people build up muscles that are used to doing things at home and work.
  • Other specialties like having a respiratory therapist, speech-language coach, nutritionist, special education teacher, or clinical psychologist can all be helpful.

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Talk to Our New York Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

If you were harmed in an accident caused by someone else’s careless behavior, you shouldn’t have to pay for your own medical treatment. To successfully get the financial help you need for your injury, your lawyer will have to show that your injury wasn't pre-existing and was caused by someone else's actions. Your experienced NY spinal cord injury attorney at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP can help you. Here are some of the expenses a lawsuit can help pay:

  • Lost income
  • Lower future earning
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Rehabilitation costs

Care and treatment for paralysis goes far beyond the cost of hospitalization. You'll need physical and occupational therapy, continuing medical care, new transportation, and medical devices.

At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, we’ve recovered over a billion dollars in settlements for our clients. Call (212) 986-7353 to schedule your FREE consultation today. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

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Additional Information