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Can a car crash paralyze you for life?

Unfortunately, the answer to the title question is yes. If you become the victim of a Connecticut motor vehicle accident and receive a back injury therein, you could indeed become paralyzed and forced to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

To understand how a car crash back injury could irreversibly paralyze you, you must first understand your spinal column. The Mayfield Clinic explains that your spinal column extends down your back from the bottom of your brain to your tailbone and contains not only your spinal cord and the vertebrae that surround it, but also the nerves that send messages back and forth from and to your brain and the rest of your body. Your 33 vertebrae are located in the following five regions of your back:

  1. Seven vertebrae in your back’s cervical region (base of your brain to base of your neck)
  2. Twelve vertebrae in your back’s thoracic region (base of your neck to your waist)
  3. Five vertebrae in your back’s lumbar region (waist to end of lower back’s lumbar curve)
  4. Five fused vertebrae in your back’s sacral region (rest of lower back)
  5. Four fused vertebrae in your back’s coccyx region (tailbone)

Spinal cord injury and paralysis

If you suffer a spinal cord injury, you will have little or no motion or feeling in the parts of your body below the point of your injury. This paralysis goes by two names: paraplegia and tetraplegia, commonly called quadriplegia. As their names imply, paraplegia caused by a lumbar region injury affects your two legs and feet, causing you to lose movement and sensation in them. Quadriplegia caused by a thoracic region injury affects all four of your limbs, i.e., your two arms and hands as well as your two legs and feet. Quadriplegics generally retain small amounts of arm motion, but seldom can they move their fingers. Nor do they have much, if any, sensation in these two limbs.

Should you suffer either paraplegia or tetraplegia, any part of your torso below your injury point likewise will become immobile and insensate. Not only will this confine you to a wheelchair in order to move from place to place, you likewise will lose control of your bladder and bowel functions. If your spinal cord injury occurs in your cervical region, you may be unable to breathe without a mechanical ventilator.

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

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