Due to the sensitive nature of the spinal cord, any damage it takes can have unpredictable effects on the body. In especially severe cases, this injury may even result in paralysis, but the loss of sensation and/or function in various areas of the body can, of course, arise in other ways as well.
Some of the most worrisome cases of paralysis are those that directly tie to medical malpractice. Since your doctor is supposed to be a trustworthy healer, it’s shocking and unfathomable when the opposite comes to pass. However, paralysis from medical malpractice is very much a reality. Let’s review some of the basics.
Common Causes of Paralysis
Any injury to the spinal cord is liable to have long-lasting effects, but the causes behind such an incident vary greatly from case to case. In an instance of medical malpractice though, a few commonalities tend to reappear. Here are a few of the most common causes of paralysis when medical malpractice is involved.
- Childbirth: Having a new baby is actually one of the few times anyone will visit the hospital for anything positive. However, because doctors are forced to act swiftly throughout labor and delivery, mistakes can happen. Standard medical practices can place the mother in jeopardy, but even infants can suffer if too much force is used during delivery. This can lead to damage the bundle of nerves known as the brachial plexus, which connect throughout the upper body, and could lead to the permanent damage to the newborn’s arm functionality.
- Inaccurate diagnosis: Your medical professionals are often the voice you rely on to guide you in the best way to solve any health problems that may arise. So when they fail to properly diagnose your condition -- or to do so in a timely fashion -- it may result in permanent damage that is past the point of treatment. As we research more and more about spinal cord injuries (and other conditions that may lead to paralysis), it appears that moving quickly is a key element in rehabilitation and recovery. When your doctor fails to serve this purpose, it very well may be cause for medical malpractice.
- Surgery: Surgeries are typically among the most serious medical procedures a patient will endure. Largely, that’s because of the invasiveness involved and, accordingly, the risk of what could go wrong. The slightest misstep in neurological or orthopedic surgery could lead to paralysis as well as permanent damage to the spine and/or the brain. In the unfortunate event that this does happen, medical malpractice is almost certainly cause for blame.
Types of Paralysis
Although paralysis is often used as a blanket term to describe any loss of sensation or function, the truth is that the condition can take many forms. Depending on the severity of the damage and what muscle groups are affected, the body may react differently. Here are some basic types of paralysis that may result from medical malpractice.
- Monoplegia: When paralysis is limited to just a one part of the body -- such as a single limb -- it is known as monoplegia. Patients with this form of paralysis usually maintain motion and sensation elsewhere in the body, and sometimes monoplegia is a temporary condition of a stroke or brain injury. Most often, monoplegia is caused by cerebral palsy, though other trauma, such as strokes, tumors and nerve damage, may be responsible.
- Hemiplegia: Not to be confused with diplegia, this type of paralysis occurs when a patient experiences loss of functioning in an arm and a leg on a single side of the body. While cerebral palsy remains the most common cause, the extent of paralysis in hemiplegia can change over time, either from day to day or declining over a long period. Oftentimes, it is preceded by a weakness on the same side of the body, known as hemiparesis.
- Paraplegia: When a patient loses all feeling and functioning in the bottom half of the body, he or she is suffering from paraplegia. Like hemiplegia, this condition -- most often the result of a spinal cord injury -- can vary from person to person and depends on a variety of factors. Sometimes, patients are not even restricted to a wheelchair, and in rare cases, they are able to spontaneously recover.
- Quadriplegia: The most severe of these four basic forms of paralysis, patients suffering from quadriplegia (or tetraplegia) are paralyzed from the neck down. Thankfully, the state of the condition varies from one case to the next, and patients can sometimes recover with physical therapy and other rehabilitation methods. Spinal cord injuries are usually the culprit here as well, and quadriplegia can on occasion be a temporary effect of a stroke, brain injury or temporary spinal pressure.
Life Beyond the Injury
Even when paralysis strikes, there’s still a chance for relief. New scientific breakthroughs are emerging all the time, leaving you with the opportunity to vastly improve your quality of life. Moreover, if medical malpractice is to blame for the injury you or someone you love has suffered, you more than likely have a credible case for legal action.
Though you may initially balk at the idea of resorting to such lengths, it could mean that financial relief is right around the corner. After all, medical costs tied to spinal cord and brain injuries remain high. Don’t miss out on the chance to alleviate the strain that so often follows a life-altering injury.
Written by Spinal Cord TeamSpinalCord.com has been created as a resource for patients of spinal cord injuries and their families. Find everything you need to learn more about your injury, locate a doctor or treatment center, or discover financial relief to support you through this difficult time.
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