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An Overview of Paralysis, Types of Injuries Causing Paralysis, How They Occur & Statistics

Paralysis Overview
Paralysis of the lower body is called paraplegia. Non-disease related paralysis is due to traumatic injury of the spinal cord and can be caused by severed or damaged nerves, or by the compression resulting from swelling and inflammation at the point of injury. Loss of feeling and movement from the injury generally happen immediately.

7paralysisWhether temporary or permanent, the loss of feeling and movement in one’s limbs is akin to an amputation. The physical and emotional toll is enormous, and the treatment, rehabilitation and ongoing care expensive. Less than half of those permanently afflicted are able to return to work after their injury.

The spinal column is the conduit for all the nerve signals between the brain and the muscles of the body. Any damage or interference with that conduit interrupts the brain/muscle communication and causes paralysis and loss of feeling to the affected areas. Additionally, paraplegics not only lose feeling and control of their limbs, but also lose bodily functions governed by the autonomic system like digestion and excretion.

Types of Paralysis Injuries

The degrees of paralysis and loss of feeling depends on the location of the spinal injury, the density of nerves in that location and the permanence of the injury. When the spinal cord is completely severed, complete paralysis results. If the cord is partially severed, partial movement and feeling may remain or return at some later point in time. Spinal cord injuries which result in a temporary swelling of the area may cause paralysis for only as long as the swelling remains present.

How Paralysis Injuries Occur
Car accidents account for the largest total number of spinal cord injuries resulting in paraplegia. For those over the age of 65, accidental falls inside the home are the leading cause of paralysis. High-impact sports such as rugby, wrestling or football and risky sports like cheerleading, gymnastics, snowboarding, diving and rock climbing all carry a significant risk of injuries leading to paralysis.

If an accident or fall occurs on someone else’s property due to a significant hazard such as uneven pavement or broken stairs, and these conditions were known but not remedied by the property owner, he or she may be partially liable for injury.

Statistics on Paralysis

  • Approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injuries are reported annually in the United States.
  • Over 250,000 Americans alive today have a spinal cord injury.
  • Males account for 78% of spinal cord injuries.
  • The average age of a spinal cord injury victim is 39.5 years old.
  • 42% of spinal injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, 27% are a result of falls, 15% are the result of assault or violence and 7% of spinal cord injuries are sports related.
  • A typical paraplegic’s in-home care and living expenses cost on average $280,000 for the first year, and $30,000 for each following year.
  • Only 40% of people with paraplegia return to work post-injury.
  • 88% of people with spinal cord injuries can return to living in their home, while 6% of people with spinal cord injuries must live in a nursing home for the rest of their life.

Paralysis Injury & Accident Articles