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Can a car crash permanently paralyze you?

Unfortunately, the answer to the above question is yes. If you become the victim of an Ohio car crash in which you receive a spinal cord injury, the result could be permanent partial or total paralysis.

The Mayfield Clinic explains that in order to understand paralysis, you must first understand your spinal cord and the vertebrae that surround it. As you likely  know, your spinal cord represents the way in which messages from and to your brain pass to and from the rest of your body, resulting in your ability to move and feel sensation. When you injure your spinal cord in a car crash or otherwise, this breaks the connection between your brain and the parts of your body below your point of injury, resulting in your losing your ability to move those body parts or feel much, if any, sensation in them.

Vertebral regions

Your back consists of the following five vertebral regions:

  1. Seven vertebrae in your cervical region; i.e., your neck
  2. Twelve vertebrae in your thoracic region; i.e., the bottom of your neck to your waist
  3. Five vertebrae in your lumbar region; i.e., your waist to the lower part of your back
  4. Five fused vertebrae in your sacral region; i.e., your lower back to your tailbone
  5. Four fused vertebrae in your coccyx region; i.e., your tailbone itself

Paralysis types

Depending on where your SCI occurs, the result will be either paraplegia or quadriplegia. “Para” means two, and this type of paralysis affects your legs. “Quad” means four, and this type of paralysis affects your arms as well as your legs. While paraplegia is a less catastrophic condition than quadriplegia, both will confine you to a wheelchair.

Whether or not your paralysis will be temporary or permanent will depend on whether your spinal cord injury is complete or incomplete. With an incomplete injury, you have the possibility of eventually regaining some or even all of the movement and sensation in your affected body parts, although recovery likely will take months or even years. If, however, your injury is a complete one, you will be permanently paralyzed in the affected parts of your body.

As stated, the higher your spinal cord injury, the greater your paralysis. Not only will you be unable to walk, stand or move your legs and feet in the case of paraplegia or your arms and hands in addition to your legs and feet in the case of quadriplegia, you also will have little or no control over your bladder and bowel functions. In a worst case quadriplegia situation, you may even need constant mechanical ventilation in order to breathe.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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