What Are the Leading Causes of Paralysis?

What Are the Leading Causes of Paralysis? With superheroes enjoying a renaissance lately, you can’t have a conversation about caped crusaders without mentioning Christopher Reeve. Christopher Reeve was an American actor whose most renowned role was beloved crimefighter Superman. Although Reeve gained his biggest fame playing the Man of Steel, he would go on to star in other successful films later in his tragically short career.

In addition to playing Superman, Reeve was well-known for surviving an equestrian accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. While horseback riding, Reeve was thrown from his horse and landed headfirst into the top rail of one of his fences. His injuries left him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and dependent upon a respirator to assist with his breathing.

Although Reeve’s paralysis was the result of a horseback riding accident, paralysis can occur from common, everyday activities. The Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Claggett & Sykes discuss the various aspects of paralysis in today’s blog.

What is paralysis?

Paralysis is the loss of voluntary muscle function in a certain region of the body. An individual can become paralyzed at any point in their life and in any part of their body. When a person becomes paralyzed, they lose the ability to control or move the muscles in the affected parts of the body.

What are the different types of paralysis?

Health professionals categorize paralysis in four different ways:

  • Location, or what part of the body is paralyzed. Paralysis can be localized to one body part, or generalized, affecting multiple parts:
    • Monoplegia, affecting one arm or leg
    • Hemiplegia, affecting one arm and leg on one side of the body
    • Paraplegia, affecting both legs
    • Quadriplegia (tetraplegia), affecting both arms and legs
  • Severity, or whether the paralysis partial or complete. A person with little to some control of their muscles has partial paralysis, while a person with no control over their muscles has complete paralysis.
  • Duration, or how long the paralysis is temporary or permanent. This is based on the amount of time and treatment it takes for the person to regain the feeling and control of the muscles in the affected part of the body. Someone who suffered a stroke, for example, may have temporary paralysis of a part of their body, but might regain control of their muscles with treatment and time.
  • Muscle spasticity, or whether the muscles will spasm or be rigid. This is based on how a person’s muscles react. A person whose muscles shrink and become flabby experience what’s called flaccid paralysis. Conversely, a person whose muscles twitch uncontrollably, or spasm, experience spastic paralysis.

What are some of the common causes of paralysis injuries?

Injuries to the nervous system are typically responsible for causing paralysis in a patient. When the nervous system is damaged, nerves can’t send messages to your muscles. Any condition that damages muscle and nerve function can cause paralysis. Some of the most common medical conditions that cause paralysis are strokes and spinal cord injuries (SCI). When a person experiences a stroke, the lack of blood supply causes cells to be starved of nutrients and oxygen, causing a disruption with communication to and from the brain.

When a person suffers an SCI, the affected area also loses the ability to communicate with the brain. As a result, a spinal cord injury can impact a person’s heart rate, muscle movement, breathing, bladder and bowel functions, sensations, and reflexes. Other causes of paralysis include autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, and neurological diseases like epilepsy and brain tumors.

Why are spinal cord injuries so difficult to treat?

Because spinal cord injuries are so unique, there is no specific recovery time. With many SCIs, the connection between the brain and other areas of the body is severed due to damage caused to the spinal cord. Because of this severed connection, the brain permanently loses the ability to send signals to the damaged area of the body.

The severity of the injury determines the journey to recovery for a patient with a spinal cord injury. For example, people with a complete spinal cord injury have no chance of recovering the neural connections between the brain and the damaged area of the body.

A person who has an incomplete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, has a possibility of recovery because of remaining neural connections. With the healthy neural connections, a person can practice repetitive movements through physical therapy and assist their central nervous system in repairing itself and relearning how to perform motor functions.

The more damaged the spinal cord becomes after an injury, the longer the recovery process for an incomplete spinal cord injury will take. Besides the severity of the injury, other factors that determine the recovery process of an incomplete spinal cord injury include whether the spinal cord was immediately stabilized after the injury, any additional health problems, the patient’s physical activity regimen, and the patient’s mental health status.

Can a patient recover from paralysis?

Sadly, permanent paralysis has no cure (though doctors are working on this). Even though there are some forms of paralysis, like Bell’s palsy that may disappear over time with no treatment, people with permanent paralysis will need to seek physical, occupational, and speech therapy to better assist themselves in living a better quality of life. Rehabilitative services can help people with paralysis take advantage of exercises and assistive devices that help improve daily function.

Talk to the Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at Claggett & Sykes about the potential value of your spinal cord injury accident case. The value of your claim may depend on the extent of your injuries, how much the accident impacted your life, the actions of the at-fault party and many other factors. Call us at 702-333-7777 or submit your query to our contact form to request a free consultation. We also offer appointments at our Reno office.