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Catastrophic Injury: Paralysis of All Limbs

Also called tetraplegia, quadriplegia is a severe medical condition in which bodily limbs are paralyzed. This is in contrast to paraplegia, in which there is a partial or total loss of function in the lower extremities. Most frequently in the maritime industry, this condition is caused by severe trauma to the spinal cord, rather than brain illnesses that cause some types of quadriplegia. This condition causes individuals to lose both sensory and motor functions which mean they lose the ability to feel as they once did as well as a loss of ability to move those limbs as they once could.

According to the American Spinal Injury Association, there are five major classifications for spinal cord injuries (A through E). A is the most severe kind of injury, because it results in a complete loss of motor and sensory functions. B through D are various types of incomplete injuries. A "B" classification causes motor function loss, but preserves sensory below the neurological level. C preserves motor function and more than half of the major muscles will have a muscle grade of less than three. A "D" classification will preserve motor function below the neurological level, and at least half of the major muscles will have a grade of three or more. Finally, a grade of "E" is normal.

Cause & Symptoms of Paralysis

The condition known as quadriplegia is typically caused by an injury higher on the spinal cord (in the C1-C7 region). In the medical field, these types of injuries are called "lesions." The very upper sections of the spine will likely cause a loss of function in the upper extremities while an injury lower on the spinal cord will cause a loss of function of the lower extremities. Depending on the severity of an injury, quadriplegia may require a victim to use assistance for breathing, since the diaphragm is controlled by spinal muscles. Since this type of condition restricts the patient's mobility, they will more easily develop blood clots and pressure sores. Victims may even have lost control of their bladder and bowel functions, requiring a patient to be hooked up to a catheter or use a bed pan. Statistics seem to indicate that around 20 percent of all cases of quadriplegia are caused by fall accidents.

Rehabilitating After a Spinal Cord Injury

Rehabilitation will be difficult and impossible in some situations. Advances in medical technology, however, have made it possible for some to regain partial mobility after these injuries. It is estimated that quadriplegics are hospitalized for about seven months on average, during which time they will undergo some rehabilitation. Embryonic stem cell based research may hold some hope when it comes to restoring damage for quadriplegics.

For those who have sustained mild paralysis, it may even be possible to undergo occupational therapy so that the individual can relearn how to perform their everyday tasks. Those who suffer from muscle spasms may also be able to benefit from physical therapy. If you were one of those who was working in the offshore industry and sustained a serious occupational injury such as this, then you may be entitled to compensation. You have the right to an attorney, and the right to seek out the benefits available to you under admiralty law.

Types of Injuries

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