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There's more to a spinal cord injury than just paralysis

If you are one of the thousands of people who now live with paralysis after a spinal cord injury in the last year, then you may already know that you have a host of challenges ahead of you. You may need to relearn basic skills and could need to find new ways to perform others.

Even as challenging as those situations may be, you may face other issues. Many people who suffer from paralysis also suffer from secondary conditions relating to it.

What types of secondary conditions?

Depending on the location of your spinal cord injury, you could find yourself vulnerable to one or more of the following conditions, some of which could be life threatening:

  • If your injury is in the high thoracic or cervical area of your spine, you may be particularly vulnerable to pneumonia. Coughing and breathing forcefully clear secretions from the lungs in a healthy person. You may struggle with these issues, and if so, those secretions could build up bacteria in your lungs and cause an infection, which leads to pneumonia.
  • If you are still within the first few months of your injury or if you become ill, you could be at risk of developing blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis. Since you are unable to move your extremities or walk, your likely blood does not get the chance to circulate as it did before. This could cause it to pool and form a clot.
  • There also could be risks of developing pressure sores, which are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. These sores can develop and lead to infection if you do not receive proper treatment.
  • Your blood pressure could rise dangerously due to pain, discomfort or irritation below the level of your injury. On the other hand, your blood pressure could suddenly plummet when you move from a flat to an upright position.

These are just some, but not nearly all, of the serious and potentially life threatening secondary conditions from which you may suffer. It may be a good idea to talk to your doctor about all of the possible conditions you need to watch for under the circumstances.

The need for lifelong health care

More than likely, you face the need for routine and emergency medical care for the rest of your life. In addition to your physical challenges, you may also find your financial situation challenging. You may be unable to work in your chosen profession, face high medical costs and other damages.

If the actions of someone else caused the injury that led to your paralysis, you may be able to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. Just as you have support in your personal life and with your medical care, you may also seek help with your legal options. Others in your position have made use of local legal resources here in San Francisco to help in that endeavor.

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