Motorcycle Accident Paralysis Injuries
A harsh truth that any motorcycle enthusiast should come to terms with is that paralysis is a very real danger associated with riding. While most people think of a worst-case scenario motorcycle crash causing a traumatic head injury, or even amputation, the fact of the matter is that partial or total paralysis can be the result of one of these unfortunate accidents as well.
In the US alone, 22% of motorcycle crash incidents result in an injury that causes paralysis; an absolute nightmare for someone who takes joy in an active lifestyle. It is important to understand these risks, and know what can be done should this happen to you
The Different Types of Paralysis
Paralysis is the loss of motor function in certain parts of the body. Depending on the severity, it can be localized (such as hand), generalized (such one as one side of the body), or in worst cases, full-body. It can also be temporary or permanent.
There are four types of generalized paralysis:
Monoplegia – when one arm or leg is paralyzed
Hemiplegia – both an arm and leg are paralyzed, usually on the same side of the body
Paraplegia – paralysis from the rib cage down
Quadriplegia – paralysis from the neck down
Because paraplegia and quadriplegia affect the lower part of the body, victims also suffer loss of function of the bladder, bowels and reproductive organs.
The High Toll of Paralysis
NHTSA data shows that spinal cord injuries are the second largest cause of bikers in rehabilitation care, next to brain trauma, and require the longest hospital stay. Of bikers who suffered a spinal injury, 20% were left with permanent complications, while 10% died.
Because paralysis involves the loss of motor function, the toll it takes on victims goes beyond medical costs. A paralyzed rider can expect additional losses in the form of lost wages and long-term rehabilitation costs.
If the rider was not at fault in the accident that caused the paralysis, they can also file for compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of quality of life
- Punitive damages
Managing Paralysis after a Motorcycle Accident
Riders who suffer a paralyzing accident will usually require extended treatment, in the form of:
- Regular medication
- Surgery (initial or multiple ones, depending on the outcome)
- Physical therapy
- Rehabilitation care
Victims who suffer paraplegia or quadriplegia will require more aftercare support:
- Catheter insertion and training
- Bowel training program
- Extended therapy (physical, plus occupational or vocational)
- Sexual dysfunction support
- Assisted breathing (in cases of chest paralysis)
- Disability counseling
Do Helmets Contribute to Spinal Injuries?
One persistent belief is that motorcycle helmets can cause neck or spine injuries during an accident. The opposite is true: helmets actually minimize the chances of suffering a spine injury when they are properly worn.
In one 5-year clinical study, it was found that helmeted riders were 2x less likely to suffer a spinal injury than non-helmeted riders. They also suffered less cervical spine fractures and fewer torn ligaments.
Another study of motorcycle crashes by Australian researchers showed that 85% of helmets surveyed in the study were damaged, but less than 25% of bikers had a head or neck injury.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
A paralyzing accident can be one of the worst outcomes for a rider who is used to enjoying life. Apart from extensive medical bills, their new condition can greatly diminish their career prospects, relationships, hobbies, mental health, and quality of life.
In paralysis cases, it’s important to consider both the immediate and future expenses it will cause down the road. We recommend consulting a motorcycle accident lawyer to help determine the proper compensation, claim damages and negotiate with the negligent party from a position of strength.
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