Paraplegia - Personal Injury Lawyers Compensation Claims
If you have been injured in an accident which caused paraplegia and would like to speak to a specialist personal injury lawyer without further obligation, just make contact with our law office. A personal injury lawyer who deals exclusively in accident compensation claims will speak to you, giving free advice and information on how best to preserve your legal right to receive compensation as a result of injuries. Our lawyers operate using a contingency scheme and you will not have to fund or finance your compensation claim in any respect. If our personal injury lawyers are not successful you pay nothing at all. You have nothing to lose in taking up our personal injury lawyers offer of free advice and there is no further obligation should you decide not to pursue a paraplegia claim further. We offer a true professional risk free service and you will only ever deal with a qualified, specialist personal injury lawyer. Do yourself justice and contact our offices today.
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Paraplegia is a type of paralysis that describes an incomplete or complete paralysis of the legs and sometimes of the trunk, depending on the level of the spinal cord affected. Knowing the precise level of injury is important because it can tell where the damage will show up on the trunk and legs. Paraplegia results from an injury to T1 or below in the spinal cord. At T1 to T8 the individual almost always has control over their hands but not their trunk because abdominal control is lost. Lower thoracic injuries such as injuries at T9 to T12, there is good control over the trunk and good abdominal muscle control. Balance in sitting is not limited at all. Lumbar injuries and sacral injuries result in decreasing control over the hip flexors and legs.
People with paraplegia often experience dysfunction of their bowel and bladder function. They often loss sexual function as well although fertility is spared in women. There is autonomic dysreflexia, which means they have low blood pressure and an inability to control their blood pressure and temperature. They are often unable to sweat below the level of the injury and have chronic pain.
A T1 injury patient has normal hand function. They can simply not sit and walk. There is improved respiratory function as the injury progresses caudally as well as an increase in abdominal musculature so the person has a better ability to sit up straight. Some complete injuries will have partial trunk movement and can stand with long braces and a walker. They can walk for short distances with the braces and walker setup. Patients with a T6-T12 injury have partial abdominal function and could be able to walk independently for short periods as long as they have long braces and a walker or perhaps crutches. The abdominal muscles throw the paralyzed legs in a forward direction while the frame of the body is taken on by the crutches or walker. It takes a lot of strength and determination to walk this kind of way. Most paraplegics who are complete won’t even want to walk this way and prefer a state of the art wheel chair. When a person has paraplegia, the following nerves and functions are affected. The lower the level of injury, the better is the leg function:
- T1—controls finger spreading and the small muscles of the hand
- T1-T12—controls breathing muscles of chest and abdominal muscles
- T10-L2—controls thought-controlled erections, also called psychogenic erections
- L2—bends at the hip
- L1-L4—controls thigh flexion
- L2-L4—controls extension of the leg at the knee
- L2-L4—controls thigh adduction
- L4-S1—controls thigh abduction
- L4-S1—controls dorsiflexion of the foot
- L4-S1—controls extension of toes
- L4-S2—Flexion of leg at knee
- L5-S2—controls extension of the leg at the hip
- L5-S2—controls plantar flexion of the foot
- L5-S2—flexion of toes
- S2-S4—controls the ability to have a reflex erection
- S4-S4—control over ejaculation
- S3-S5—supply the bladder, sex organs and bowel function as well as the anal and pelvic muscles
Symptoms of paraplegia include deficits in bowel and bladder function, deficits in sexual function, loss of function in the legs and sometimes a loss of function of the abdominal and chest respiratory function. The level of function of the defect determines the degree of injury and the level of muscles impaired.
There are numerous secondary medical complications of paraplegia. There is a loss of function and feeling in the lower extremities, leading to complications. They can get pressure sores or decubiti from sitting or lying in one place for too long. Blood can become sludged in the lower extremity deep veins and cause a blood clot or thrombosis in the deep veins. The clots can break off into the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. There can be low blood pressure, autonomic dysreflexia and pneumonia. Bowel and bladder function don’t work as well so there may be constipation and urinary retention or incontinence. A woman’s fertility is unaffected but a man’s is affected by a lack of potency. It takes vigilant self-observation, the use of assistive devices like the standing frame and physiotherapy all can curtail the advent of complications of paraplegia.
Because paraplegia is the result of a traumatic injury to the person and there is secondary nerve inflammation, there can be other nerve complications occurring. For example, there can be chronic nerve pain around the point of injury, giving the patient “phantom pains” felt by so many people who have paraplegia. They could be the result of collateral inflammation by the nerves near the injured spinal cord.
The ASIA Impairment scale is a scale identified by the American spinal Injury Association to grade patients according to the functional impairment as a result of their injury:
Grade A—Complete, where there is no motor or sensory function in the sacral segments S4-S5
Grade B—Incomplete, where there is sensory but no motor function preserved below the level of injury, including S4 to S5.
Grade C—incomplete, where motor function is preserved below the motor level and more than half the muscles in this region have a muscle grade less than 3.
Grade D—Incomplete, where motor function is preserved at the neurological level and at least half of the key muscles below the level of injury have a muscle grade of more than 3.
The treatment of paraplegia begins in the emergency room with immobilization and fixation of the spinal vertebrae so that if the injury is incomplete, it goes no further. Medications like steroids are given to shrink swelling of the spinal cord. A careful physical examination and history is taken to see what kinds of injuries, nervous or otherwise, are present. Therapies are designed to maximize recovery and to prevent further injury. If there is a tumor that is pressing on the spine, surgery to remove it as much as possible is undertaken. Radiation therapy can also shrink tumors that are pressing on the spine.
Therapy and rehabilitation are important to paraplegics. They undergo physical therapy, occupational therapy and play therapy to gain function and strength of muscles that are still working.
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