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Paralysis is the traumatic loss of muscle function and feeling, and usually includes some amount of incurable impairment. Paralysis is typically caused by an injury to the spinal cord and is financially and emotionally devastating and life altering. When paralysis is the result of the negligence or gross negligence of another person or entity, there may be hope of a monetary recovery to help with the medical bills and expenses that are sure to be incurred. Most frequently, paralysis results from physical trauma caused by motor vehicle collisions, falls, gunshot wounds, sports injuries and workplace incidents and workplace violence.
The kind and extent of paralysis is dependent upon the level of the spinal injury. High cervical spinal cord injuries (C1 – C4) are the most severe, and can result in complete paralysis, impaired speech, breathing and bowel and bladder control. Complete assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing, and getting in or out of bed will likely be required. Low cervical spinal injuries (C5 – C8) can result in paralysis of the arms, hands, trunk and legs, and can affect breaching and speech. Mid-level spinal cord injuries affect muscles, upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles, trunk and legs, with normal upper-body movement. Lower-level spinal cord injuries can result in some loss of function in the hips and legs.
Secondary to the paralyzing event are the complications of this injury that can include fluid buildup in the lungs, atrophy of the muscle, bed sores from immobility, urinary tract and respiratory infections, blood clots and pain.
The average yearly costs for health care and living expenses, not to mention lost wages, fringe benefits and productivity, and depending on the severity of the paralysis, can range from $1 million dollars to $350,000 for the first year and 180,000 to $42,000 for each subsequent year, with millions of dollars in lifetime costs.
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