What are the Types of Paralysis from Catastrophic Spinal Cord Injuries?

man in wheelchair due to an accident that results in several types of paralysis

The thought of receiving an injury to the spine is unfathomable— until it happens to you or a loved one during a catastrophic accident. According to the United Spinal Association, there are 17,000 new spinal cord injuries in the United States each year — with the most common diagnosis being paralysis. While all types of paralysis have different degrees of severity, they all involve a loss of mobility that is psychologically and emotionally devastating for one to grasp. 

After a catastrophic injury in a car or truck accident, a slip and fall due to another’s negligence, or an on the job work injury, the last thing you may think about is filing a claim. When the unexpected happens, our spinal cord injury lawyers will help you navigate the intricacies of spinal cord injury cases in Missouri and Illinois. 

Explaining Paralysis

Paralysis is the inability to voluntarily move a part of the body — either temporarily or permanently. In some cases, a victim will only experience paralysis for a brief time and regain partial or full movement after therapy to strengthen the muscles. Most types of paralysis only affect one portion of the body, but some catastrophic injuries are so severe that they cause complete paralysis. 

Many types of paralysis are caused when the spinal cord does not work due to an injury in a car or truck accident or work-related incident. A majority of spinal cord injuries are incomplete — meaning some nerve signals are still able to travel up and down the cord. Those who experience an incomplete spinal injury usually retain some feeling or movement in their limbs. 

An individual with a complete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, will have the affected area of the spinal cord severed or compressed — preventing any signals from passing along to certain parts of the spine.

The Four Types of Paralysis

In the event of a catastrophic injury, paralysis may take many forms. There are four main types of paralysis based on the part of the body affected. 

1. Monoplegia

Monoplegia is a type of paralysis that targets only one single area of the body. Typically, it includes paralysis to one limb and a person will usually regain control of the affected area with therapy and occasional numbness. There are many conditions that cause this form of partial paralysis during a catastrophic injury, including: 

Some individuals may be permanently affected by monoplegia, and treatment options may help alleviate symptoms and educate them about how to improve their overall quality of life.

2. Hemiplegia 

Hemiplegia causes paralysis to an arm and leg on the same side of the body. It commonly starts with a sensation of pins and needles, progresses to muscle weakness and eventually, ends in complete paralysis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this is commonly caused by cerebral palsy or a stroke, but it may also be brought on due to an incomplete spinal cord injury as a result of a car or trucking accident

3. Paraplegia 

Paraplegia is a type of paralysis that prevents voluntary movement in areas below the waist, such as both legs, hips, feet and muscles within the pelvis. While paraplegia varies from person to person, it involves many life adjustments with one’s range of motion. For example, if someone experienced a serious trucking accident where their spinal cord was incompletely damaged in the lumbar region, they may not be able to move their legs without assistance. 

As the most common type of paralysis for spinal cord injuries, it impedes the brain’s ability to send and receive neurological signals below that site of injury. As spinal cord injury lawyers, we have seen how these life adjustments change families lives, especially when it comes to lost time from work, medical expenses and on-going treatments. We recommend consulting a catastrophic injury attorney if you become a paraplegic as a result of someone else’s negligence in order to determine what your best course of action should be.

4. Quadriplegia

The most severe form of paralysis is quadriplegia — the complete loss of movement below the neck. While the degree of paralysis does vary from person to person, it often takes time to retrain the brain and body to move in the case of an incomplete spinal cord injury. Catastrophic events such as a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, construction accidents or sporting injuries may induce this type of paralysis. 

Advising Your Next Steps 

A spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis is a difficult experience to comprehend. As you process the diagnosis, medical expenses and adjustments you may need to make in your life, you need to have someone in your corner who will fight for the justice you and your family deserve. 

Our experienced spinal cord injury lawyers understand the physical and emotional toll a catastrophic injury like paralysis has on the victim and their families. We will help you navigate the types of paralysis, how to develop a catastrophic injury case in Missouri or Illinois and recover the damages necessary to move your family forward. Contact the attorneys at MHM to receive your free consultation today.