Can Paralysis Be Cured?
A paralysis diagnosis is terrible news for anyone, and the first question a newly diagnosed individual is likely to have is if there is any hope for a cure. While some people who suffer paralysis from conditions like strokes and cerebral palsy may recover some motor function and sensation, others, particularly those who develop paralysis as a result of a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, have little to no hope of remedying the paralysis.
When speaking to a doctor about a paralysis diagnosis, it’s important for patients and their loved ones to try and stay as positive about the situation as possible, while staying realistic about their expectations for the future. Hearing that a patient’s paralysis will be permanent is never easy news to hear, but this news doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope for regaining a degree of independence and enjoying life to the fullest.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Most paralysis cases result from spinal cord injuries. This thick cluster of nerves extends from the brain down through the bones of the spine, with nerve endings extending to all areas of the body. When the spinal cord sustains an injury, all of the nerve endings extending from the cord below the injury site are affected. In an incomplete injury, the spinal cord is still partially intact, so the victim may retain a bit of sensation or motor function, but rarely both. A complete injury is one that completely severs the spinal cord. This type of spinal cord injury is permanent, as is any paralysis resulting from the injury.
While the spinal cord cannot self-repair, and any paralysis resulting from a complete spinal cord injury will be irreparable, people who suffer paralysis from other conditions or incomplete spinal cord injuries may recover to a degree, but this depends on the severity of the injury, the injury’s location on the spine, how quickly the victim receives treatment, and the victim’s overall medical health.
When recovery is possible, a patient’s doctor will recommend a number of possible therapies and treatments to regain lost sensation or motor function. Again, recovery hinges heavily on the location and severity of the injury, so patients should try to be realistic about their chances of recovery. Paralysis is as much a mental condition as it is physical and coping with permanent disability is never easy. However, there are several options available to people suffering from paralysis, and some experimental treatments hold promise for the future. Stem cell research, peripheral nerve re-routing, microsurgery, and spinal cord regeneration are all in various stages of development.
Coping With Paralysis
Physical therapy can help a patient learn to manage partial paralysis, and over time, the patient may regain some lost motor function. Occupational therapy can help a patient learn new ways of moving a partially paralyzed body, and psychological counseling can help a patient suffering from paralysis avoid depression and other negative psychological conditions following a paralysis diagnosis.
Some medical devices, such as wheelchairs, can also provide relief and help a person suffering from paralysis recover some degree of independence. However, it takes time to get used to using a wheelchair and build the upper body strength needed to manage a wheelchair in busy areas. It’s also important for people with paralysis to have consistent medical care and supervision. For example, a patient who is restricted to a bed requires regular repositioning to avoid the formation of bed sores and blood clots.
Paralysis from a complete spinal cord injury may be permanent, but other types of paralysis may improve over time with consistent therapy and monitoring. If you or a loved one recently received a paralysis diagnosis, speak extensively with your doctor about options for the future, possible therapies that may provide relief or restore function, and the progress made with experimental procedures. If you believe another negligent party was the cause of your paralysis, consider speaking with a seasoned Austin personal injury lawyer experienced in brain and spinal cord injuries.