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Can a car wreck paralyze you?

Winter has arrived in Montana, and with it comes more automobile accidents. Unfortunately, you stand a good chance of becoming involved in one of them and the results could be catastrophic. For instance, if you injure your neck or back in your accident, you could sever your spinal cord and become paralyzed.

Brain and Spinal Cord explains that how much paralysis you could suffer depends on which of your following four spinal cord regions you injure:

  1. Your cervical region: the base of your brain to the base of your neck
  2. Your thoracic region: the bottom of your neck to your waist
  3. Your lumbar region: your waist to your lower back
  4. Your sacral region: your lower back to your coccyx a/k/a your tailbone

If you completely sever your spinal cord, you will suffer both loss of motion and loss of sensation in your body below the point of injury. An incomplete severance could leave you with some sensation below the point of injury, but virtually no motion. In either case, you likely will spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

Paraplegia versus quadriplegia

In medical terminology, paralysis comes in two types: paraplegia and quadriplegia a/k/a tetraplegia. If your auto accident renders you paraplegic, this means that you will no longer be able to walk or move your legs or feet, although if you are lucky, you will still retain some sensation in the lower parts of your body.

If your auto accident renders you quadraplegic, this means that not only will you be unable to walk or move your legs or feet, but also that you will have limited, if any, movement in your arms and hands. Consequently, you will require constant care by others. Depending on how high up your injury occurs, you may also need a mechanical ventilator to allow you to breathe.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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