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What Are the Chances of Being Paralyzed in a Car Accident?


Car accidents happen all too often, with millions of collisions occurring each year. In 2020 alone, there were more than five million crashes in the United States, resulting in over 35,000 fatalities and over one million injuries.

For those who survive a car accident, the road to recovery may be long and difficult, with many facing the possibility of paralysis as a result of their injuries. While the odds of suffering paralysis vary depending on the circumstances of the accident, it's important to be aware of the risks and to take steps to minimize them whenever possible.

Common Spinal Injury Causes

As reported by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), vehicle crashes are a leading cause of spinal cord injuries (38.6%). While the severity of these injuries may vary, they can have a lasting impact on individuals and their families.

Other common spinal cord injury causes include:

  • Falls 32.2%
  • Violence 14.0%
  • Sports 7.8%
  • Medical/surgical 4.2%
  • Other 3.2%

It is important to take every precaution while driving, such as wearing a seatbelt and following traffic laws, to minimize the risk of a potentially life-changing accident. Additionally, seeking immediate medical attention if involved in a vehicle crash is crucial. Many injuries may not be detected for hours or days after an accident.

What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury is a serious medical condition that can have permanent effects on the body's strength and sensation. This injury can occur from damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerve endings located at the end of the spinal canal.

In addition, a spinal cord injury can lead to changes in various bodily functions situated below the site of the injury. Treatment of spinal cord injury can include surgery, physical therapy, and medication to help manage symptoms and help patients recover.

What Causes Paralysis?

The nervous system is a vital part of the body, responsible for sending signals from your brain to the rest of your body, telling it what to do. Unfortunately, damage to the nervous system can cause a range of issues. For example, a spinal cord injury can lead to paralysis. When paralyzed, the body’s muscles no longer receive messages, leaving them unable to move.

Difference Between Spinal Cord Injury & Back Injury

It's important to note that a back injury is not the same as a spinal cord injury. When someone experiences a back injury, it may result in damage to the bones or soft tissues in the spine, but the spinal cord remains unaffected.

A spinal cord injury, on the other hand, occurs when the spinal cord itself is damaged and can have serious and long-lasting effects on a person's mobility and life.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can result in complete or incomplete function loss below the level of injury.

Types of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Complete injury: A complete injury leads to paralysis with no function left in the affected area. This type of injury can result in quadriplegia (paralysis in four limbs) or paraplegia (paralysis in the lower half of the body), depending on the affected area.
  • Incomplete injury: This type of injury allows people to retain some level of function on one or both sides of the body. This means that the brain and body can still communicate along certain pathways.

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

Spinal cord injuries are serious, and it's important to know what symptoms to look out for.

Some common signs include:

  • Weak arms and/or legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Severe pain or pressure in the neck or back
  • Unusual lumps along the spine
  • Difficulty breathing

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms after an injury, seek medical attention immediately. Early intervention can greatly improve outcomes and minimize long-term effects.

Get Legal Help

In the aftermath of a car accident, it's crucial that you prioritize your health and well-being by seeking proper medical care. Once you've received the necessary treatment, however, it's equally important to consider your legal options.

That's where a car accident attorney can help. At Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, our team is dedicated to investigating our clients’ cases thoroughly to hold those responsible accountable and pursue compensation on your behalf. This may include reimbursement for medical bills, time off work, pain and suffering, and other damages you may have incurred.

To learn more, contact our team today at (937) 403-9033 or fill out our form online.