When it comes to adjusting to life with paralysis, you will probably face many challenges. You may find it difficult to move around your home. You may face problems performing everyday tasks. You may have to reconcile yourself to living a more sedentary life.
Aside from these inconveniences, you could suffer some potentially serious health problems as well. Many people who suffer from paralysis contract secondary conditions due to their circumstances. Below are three of the most serious conditions those with spinal cord injuries face.
Your blood pressure could rise to dangerous levels
The higher up your injury occurred (usually at T6 and above), the higher your risk of suffering from a condition called autonomic dysreflexia. This condition comes with the potential to jeopardize your life and requires immediate medical intervention. The symptoms of this dangerous rise in blood pressure include the following:
- Clammy skin
- Flushed face
- Severe headache
- A pulse of less than 60 beats per minute
- Blood pressure above your normal
- Nasal congestion
- Sweating above your injury
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor right away. A doctor can prescribe a treatment regimen designed to lower your blood pressure and address other health problems you may experience due to your condition.
You could develop blood clots
Since you can’t move your limbs on a regular basis, your blood circulation suffers, and blood clots could develop. The risk is always there but is most often seen in the first months after injury and whenever you contract an illness. This can quickly develop into a life-threatening condition if a clot dislodges and travels to your lungs, heart or brain. Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include the following:
- Whitish or bluish discoloration of the skin
- Warmth to the touch
Doctors may prescribe blood-thinning medications or implant medical devices to rectify and prevent this occurrence.
You could develop pneumonia
The risk of pneumonia is highest for those with injuries in the upper thoracic or cervical region of the spine. In addition, if you breathed in water in the accident that led to your paralysis, the risk may be even higher. Before the accident, when secretions would build up in your lungs, you were able to forcefully inhale, exhale and cough, which generally clears up the issue. Now, your body may not be able to clear the secretions on its own.
Bacteria could develop in your lungs and give rise to this infection. Watching out for the following symptoms will alert you to the possibility of pneumonia:
- Pale skin
- Increased chest congestion
- Shortness of breath
Pneumonia can quickly become life threatening if left untreated. If you suspect you are suffering from this condition, seek medical attention right away.
The ongoing need for medical intervention
Due to your condition, you may always need ongoing medical intervention for these and other secondary conditions that can develop. This only adds to the financial losses you more than likely began experiencing as the result of your accident.
If another person or people bear legal responsibility for your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can review your situation and explain your legal options.