The Risk of Paralysis in Car Accidents

Paralysis From Car AccidentParalysis is the loss of the ability to move parts or most of the body. It can be temporary or permanent, and result from illness, poison, or injury.

There are generally four types of paralysis:

  • Monoplegia: Paralysis of a single area of the body, e.g. one limb
  • Hemiplegia: Paralysis of an arm and leg on one side of the body
  • Paraplegia: Paralysis beneath the waist that typically affects both legs and hips
  • Quadriplegia: Paralysis below the neck affecting all four limbs and the torso

According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, approximately 5,357,970 people (1.7 percent of the population) have some form of paralysis making it difficult or impossible to move their arms or legs.

Car accidents and paralysis

When an individual’s spinal cord is damaged in a car accident, paralysis may be the result. The spinal cord, a collection of nerves that runs from the base of the brain down the back of the body, carries signals from the brain to control movement and sensation throughout the body. Here are some of the ways a car accident may lead to paralysis:

  • Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI): The force of impact in a car accident can cause severe trauma to the spine, resulting in damage to the spinal cord. This damage can interrupt the communication between the brain and the body below the injury site, leading to paralysis. The amount of paralysis depends on the severity and location of the spinal cord injury.
  • Compression or fracture of the vertebrae: The vertebrae (bones) that make up the spine can be fractured or compressed due to the impact of the accident. If these fractured or dislocated bones put pressure on the spinal cord, it can cause damage and paralysis.
  • Whiplash: A sudden, violent forward and backward movement of the head and neck during a car accident can cause whiplash. This rapid movement can damage the spinal cord or the surrounding tissues, leading to paralysis.
  • Internal bleeding or swelling: Car accidents can also cause internal bleeding (hematoma) or swelling around the spinal cord (edema). If left untreated, this increased pressure on the spinal cord can result in paralysis.
  • Secondary complications: In addition to the immediate impact, secondary complications such as infection or inflammation can cause further damage the spinal cord and lead to paralysis.

Paralysis from a car accident can vary in severity and may be temporary or permanent. Rehabilitation, medical treatment, and supportive care are often required to manage paralysis and improve the individual’s quality of life.

Is paralysis different for men than women?

There are some differences in the incidence and characteristics of paralysis between men and women, although they are basically the same conditions. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Incidence: Men tend to have a higher incidence of SCIs than women, primarily due to differences in risk-taking behaviors and participation in activities that may lead to traumatic injuries, such as sports and certain occupations. According to the Shepherd Center, about 78 percent of new SCI cases are male, and the average age is 43.
  • Causes: The causes of paralysis, including spinal cord injuries, can vary between men and women. While car accidents are a common cause for both genders, certain activities or circumstances may pose different risks. For example, violence is a more common cause of SCIs in men; however, falls are more frequent among older women.
  • Severity and recovery: Studies have suggested that women tend to have slightly better neurological outcomes and may experience less severe paralysis than men with similar spinal cord injuries. Additionally, women may have a higher likelihood of regaining some motor function and independence during the rehabilitation process. However, only a small number of individuals with SCI recover all function.
  • Secondary health issues: Women and men may experience different secondary health issues associated with paralysis. For example, women with paralysis may be at higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures due to hormonal changes and reduced weight-bearing activity.
  • Psychosocial impact: Paralysis can have significant psychosocial effects on both men and women, but they may appear different based on gender roles and societal expectations. Women with paralysis may face unique challenges related to caregiving responsibilities, body image, and reproductive health.

Overall, while there may be some differences in the incidence and characteristics of paralysis between men and women, the fundamental aspects of the condition and its management are similar. Individual experiences and outcomes can vary widely based on factors such as the cause of paralysis, age, overall health, and access to healthcare and support services.

The Columbus personal injury attorneys at Soroka & Associates have the skills, experience, and resources to represent those experiencing paralysis as the result of a car accident or some other injury. Call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule your initial consultation today.