Spinal cord injuries can be extremely debilitating and life-changing; two of the most common results of a spinal cord injury include conditions known as paraplegia and quadriplegia (also commonly referred to as tetraplegia). By understanding the differences between each type of spinal cord injury and how they can affect a person’s life, you can be better informed and better prepared to embark on a legal case regarding your spinal cord injury or that of a loved one.
Understanding the Differences
Paraplegia and quadriplegia/tetraplegia are both types of spinal cord injuries, but they differ greatly in the part of the spine they affect and how they impact the human body.
Paraplegia refers to a spinal cord injury that has occurred below the first thoracic spinal levels (towards the middle of the spine). Those with paraplegia retain full use of their arms and hands, but their legs may be partially or entirely paralyzed. In minor cases, there may be a tingling sensation in the legs and a decrease in one’s ability to feel certain sensations in the lower part of the body. In severe cases, full paralysis from the waist down may occur.
With quadriplegia, the spinal cord injury has taken place above the thoracic vertebra and into the cervical vertebra (around the neck). When this occurs, paralysis of all four limbs (legs and arms) is the result. Still, the specific degree of paralysis can vary depending on the extent of the injury. For instance, some may be able to regain some feeling and use of the arms and/or legs, whereas in other cases, total paralysis may become a permanent part of life.
Common Causes of Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
There are many common causes of paraplegia and quadriplegia spinal cord injuries. Car accidents and workplace (especially construction) accidents are among the most common, but other potential causes can include:
Of course, it is worth noting that a life-changing spinal cord injury could occur any time and at any place. Even a slip-and-fall accident could result in a severe spinal cord injury if the circumstances are just right.
Estimated Annual and Lifetime Costs
Tetraplegia and quadriplegia are not only emotionally and physically challenging to endure, but they can also wreak havoc on a person’s (or a family’s) finances.
Average Annual Costs
For a person with tetraplegia, the first year of care alone typically costs between $770,000 and $1,000,000. This doesn’t include indirect expenses, such as lost wages and pain and suffering. For each subsequent year of care, those with tetraplegia can expect costs ranging between $113,000 and $184,000.
For those with paraplegia, first-year expenses are generally between $350,000 and $518,000, with average costs for each subsequent year ranging between $42,000 and $68,000.
Average Lifetime Costs
Lifetime costs for those with tetraplegia and paraplegia can certainly add up. For tetraplegia patients age 25 years old, lifetime costs can range between $3.4 million and $4.7 million, whereas those who experienced their injury at age 50 can expect lifetime costs to range between $2.1 million and $2.5 million.
Paraplegia patients, on the other hand, often have lifetime costs between $1.1 and $2.3 million.
Seeking Financial Compensation
Those who have suffered from a spinal cord injury, such as tetraplegia or paraplegia, should consider seeking financial compensation for their losses—particularly if the injury was caused by another person or entity’s carelessness. There are many potential sources of financial compensation that can help to offset and annual and lifetime costs associated with these spinal cord injuries, including:
- compensation for pain and suffering
- home and vehicle modifications
- lost wages and future earnings
- medical expenses
- property damage
- vocational training
How an Experienced Law Firm Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered from a spinal cord injury, such as tetraplegia or quadriplegia, don’t handle the burden alone. If you believe somebody else was responsible for your injuries, seeking legal help is one of the best decisions you can make. Please keep in mind that most states have a two-year statute of limitations on these kinds of cases, so the sooner you take legal action, the better.
A team of lawyers experienced in personal injury and spinal cord injury cases can assist you in building a case and fighting for the compensation you may be entitled to. Throughout the process, a dedicated team of lawyers will keep your best interests in mind and defend your rights. Get started today by scheduling a free consultation to find out what an experienced law firm can do to help you.