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Boston Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Personal Injury > How Does Paralysis Happen?

How Does Paralysis Happen?

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Aside from death, paralysis is often considered the worst, most catastrophic, and most terrifying of injuries that someone can sustain in an accident. But how does paralysis happen?

The Anatomy of the Spine and Back

Your spinal cord is made up of nerves—think of your spinal cord as a highway that carries the electrical signals from your brain to the other parts and organs of your body. Whenever something blocks, obstructs, or completely cuts off that highway, the signals can no longer travel down that highway, and the result is some degree of paralysis.

Of course, our backs are very exposed to the outside world, and the spine is very close to our skin, which means that even a small bump or a minor impact could cause paralysis—that is, if it wasn’t for the bones that surround and protect the spinal column. Those bones are called vertebrae, and they run up and down your back. The spinal nerves run through those bones, which shield the nerves from impact.

How an Accident Injures the Spine

When you are in an accident that causes an impact on your neck or back, the bones that protect the spine, can jut out of place, as can the jelly-like discs that are between those bones. If they jut out enough, they can push against, block, or even completely sever, the spinal column and the spinal nerves.

Whenever the spinal nerves are blocked or severed, function below where the damage occurred will be affected. So, if your spine was severed in your neck area, you could end up with complete and total full body paralysis. If the spinal cord was affected a little lower down, you may experience paralysis only in your legs.

Full and Partial Paralysis

When the nerves of the spine are completely severed, complete and full paralysis can result, but that doesn’t always happen. Many times, there may be partial, or what is known as incomplete paralysis. With incomplete paralysis, some level of function and feeling in the affected areas may remain (and return in time, with medical attention). Victims may also experience a loss of function of bladder or bowel, on a full or part time basis.

Get Treatment Immediately

Medicine now knows that if treated immediately, even the worst kinds of paralysis can be mitigated, which is why immediate medical attention is so important. That may require immediate surgery, if there is a vertebrae or a disc that is pressing against the spinal nerves. This kind of surgery can take pressure off the spinal nerves, and avoid further injury.

Immediate therapy can return function and feeling over time, and it often is not clear immediately after an accident how much feeling or function will eventually return to the victim.

Call our Boston personal injury attorneys today at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. at 617-275-4200 for help getting compensation for your injuries if you have suffered a back injury of any kind.

Sources:

christopherreeve.org/living-with-paralysis/health/causes-of-paralysis/spinal-cord-injury

mayfieldclinic.com/pe-anatspine.htm

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