What Happens if You’re Paralyzed After a Car Accident?

After you are paralyzed in a car accident, your life will change overnight. On top of no longer being able to experience the full range of motion, many of your body’s other functions will also change. Your ability to work and to socialize may also be compromised. Most of these effects will be temporary as you adjust to your new normal.

According to Kryder Law, an Illinois-based law firm that has handled hundreds of car accident cases, partial or total paralysis can happen when the spine is contorted at a high rate of force.

Permanent paralysis can be caused by back sprains, spinal disc injuries, and spine fractures, all of which require extensive rehabilitation.

A diagnosis of paralysis will be made at the hospital after the accident victim has been examined and undergone testing. After a car accident a paralyzed individual may experience:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Inability to breathe
  • Inability to move
  • Numbness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Memory difficulties
  • Communication difficulties

On top of these devastating physical effects, a diagnosis of paralysis can come with serious emotional challenges.

Paralysis: What to Expect

The effects of paralysis on an individual will depend on what type of paralysis they have. These are the two major categories.


Hemiplegia is paralysis of half the body, and it can be temporary or permanent. This could be the bottom half or either the left or right half. Individuals who are suffering from this condition may find that the muscles of the area that is paralyzed will begin to atrophy. Your muscles may also move on their own, and you may also develop chronic pain or seizures.


Quadriplegia is complete paralysis. Some individuals with quadriplegia will only be able to move their body below their head or below their neck. In certain cases the paralyzed individual will have some arm movement, but they will not be able to control their hands. Although they cannot move their body, it is still possible for these patients to feel pain in their legs, arms, and back.

How to Cope

Just as the effects of paralysis are both physical and mental, so are the treatments. Which treatments you’ll respond to will depend on the specifics of your injuries and your overall health, but they could include any or all of the following.


If you’re paralyzed, you will most likely be put on blood thinners that will minimize the chance that your arteries will be blocked and that you’ll have a stroke. You may also be put on muscle relaxants to help you cope with the pain of being paralyzed. You may end up on many different medications.

Your physician may also recommend antibiotics. This can help lower your risk of developing a traumatic brain injury (TBI).


There are a variety of surgeries you may undergo to treat paralysis. Nerve surgery may be used to help you control your hands and arms. You may also have surgery to repair damage to your spinal cord or to help relieve muscle contractions.

Mental Health

There are support groups for people with spinal cord injuries that will allow you to interact with people who are going through the same issues you are. You may be able to find groups in your own community or online.

Suffering some form of paralysis does not mean the rest of your life has to revolve around your disability. You are so much more than your injury, but learning to live with it may be a process that a mental health professional can help guide you through.

Until recently, paralysis was not curable, and no patients had recovered. There are now technologies in development that are showing tremendous promise in this area. In the future, there may be a cure for paralysis. Until then, continuing to live your life to the fullest is the best medicine we’ve got.


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