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Can a car crash paralyze you?

As an Illinois driver, no one need tell you that car crashes happen all too frequently. Sometimes they can result in dire consequences. If you sustain a neck or back injury in your car crash, a good part of your body could become paralyzed, forcing you to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

As explained by Brain and Spinal Cord, the extent of your paralysis will depend on exactly which part of your spinal cord you injure. To understand this better, you first need to understand the following four regions of you back:

  1. The cervical region that goes from the base of your brain to the base of your neck
  2. The thoracic region that goes from the base of your neck to your waist
  3. The lumbar region that goes from your waist to your lower back
  4. The sacral region that goes from your lower back to your tailbone, a/k/a your coccyx

Your spine is Grand Central Station for the nerves that radiate out to all parts of your body. These nerves control your voluntary and involuntary movements and also control the extent to which you can feel sensation, including pain, in various parts of your body.

Paraplegia versus quadriplegia

Paraplegia and quadriplegia represent the two most common types of paralysis. If you become a paraplegic, this means that you will not be able to move your legs, feet or any part of your body below the point in your spine’s lumbar region that you severed. You will be unable to walk except possibly with the aid of heavy leg braces and crutches. You likely also will not be able to feel anything below your point of injury.

If you become a quadriplegic, this means that you will not be able to move your arms, hands, legs or feet or any part of your torso below the thoracic region of your spinal cord that you severed. Not only will you not be able to walk, you also will not be able to do virtually anything for yourself, requiring the constant care of others. You may even need mechanical ventilation to allow you to breathe.

The above is general educational information only. It is not intended to provide legal advice.

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Springfield, IL 62704

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