Can a Brain Injury Cause Paralysis?

Can a Brain Injury Cause Paralysis?While many people assume that paralysis is solely caused by spinal cord damage, it is important to note that a brain injury can also lead to paralysis. This tends to occur when the cells in the brain undergo severe bruising, tearing, bleeding, or complete damage, significantly impacting an individual’s muscle function. Consequently, the affected person may experience temporary or permanent inability to move certain limbs or body parts.

A traumatic brain injury typically leads to paralysis when the brain is unable to communicate effectively with other areas of the body, including different muscle groups responsible for specific functions. In such cases, the brain may struggle to send signals and properly direct the muscles, ultimately resulting in paralysis. Individuals experiencing paralysis find themselves unable to move specific areas or limbs within their body.

Where does paralysis usually occur after a brain injury?

When brain cells are damaged due to trauma, they lose the ability to instruct your limbs and body parts on what to do or how to function. Most brain injuries result in paralysis on only one side of the body, a condition known as hemiplegia. This occurs because brain injuries are usually localized to one side of the brain. Therefore, the type of paralysis that you experience is based on where your brain is injured.

Each hemisphere of your brain governs distinct movements and functions, which typically controls the opposite side of the body. If the left portion of your brain suffers an injury, you may experience paralysis in the limbs and body parts on the right side of your body.

TBIs and partial paralysis

A severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause complete paralysis, but it can also lead to partial paralysis. In such cases, a victim may retain control over some parts of the body while losing control over others. For example, individuals suffering from a TBI may lose their ability to move one leg, while still retaining the capacity to move their arms. Alternatively, they may experience Bell’s palsy, which involves the weakening of facial muscles, or develop dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), but not experience other symptoms.

TBIs, strokes, and paralysis

Not all brain injuries are the result of trauma; strokes are a leading cause of paralysis. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation explains:

Paralysis is a common outcome of stroke, often on one side of the body (hemiplegia). Paralysis may affect only the face, an arm or a leg, but most often, one entire side of the body and face is affected. A person who suffers a stroke in the left hemisphere (side) of the brain will show right-sided paralysis, or paresis. Likewise, a person with a stroke in the right hemisphere (side) will show deficits on the left side of the body.

Strokes are largely unpredictable, and the most common preventative measure encouraged by medical professionals revolve around lifestyle choices. However, traumatic brain injuries can increase the risk of a stroke, too. As such, paralysis from a stroke may be a compensable injury in a personal injury lawsuit if the stroke was the result of a TBI.

How to know whether or not you have a brain injury

It can take several hours or days for symptoms of a brain injury to arise. This means the effects of the injury could already be severe before you realize that you have one. Any time you hit or strike your head on a hard surface or object, you should seek medical attention from a licensed medical physician as soon as possible. Traumatic brain injuries should be taken very seriously because they can cause serious complications.

Are there treatment options for paralysis caused by a brain injury?

There are specific medical and rehabilitation treatment options for individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury which resulted in paralysis. These treatment options help the body regain its muscle function and movement. Five of the treatment options include:

  1. Mirror therapy: Mirror therapy is commonly used for patients with brain injuries that affect their legs, arms, or hands. The individual is required to put the mirror directly over their paralyzed body part. Then, they will be encouraged to perform various exercises with the unaffected extremity while watching in the mirror. The goal of this type of therapy is to trick your brain into believing that it is the paralyzed limb that is moving. This type of therapy can actually activate neurons in the area of the brain that is responsible for movement.
  2. Mental exercises: Mental exercises are a great way to think about moving the paralyzed limb or body part, which can help activate the brain. Some doctors and physical therapists may recommend mental exercises alone. However, this treatment seems to be more successful when paired with physical exercises.
  3. Active exercises: The brain’s connection to the muscles can strengthen with time and focus, leading individuals to regain some of their muscle function again. However, once the individual regains some of their muscle movement, they should continue to participate in active exercises. The more they do these exercises, the stronger their muscle and brain communication will become. Over time, the doctor or physical therapist will likely suggest harder and more complex exercises.
  4. Electrical stimulation: Another recommended form of treatment is electrical stimulation. When a patient is undergoing this type of treatment, they will have electrical pads that are put on their skin. The pads then send electrical signals to the paralyzed limbs and muscles. The goal is for the electrical pads to cause the muscles to move or respond, thus stimulating the brain. This type of treatment is usually only conducted by a licensed physical therapist.
  5. Passive range of motion exercises: Passive range of motion exercises involve the doctor or physical therapist stretching and moving the paralyzed limbs. Individuals cannot do these exercises on their own. Even though these types of exercises do not involve much effort from the individual experiencing paralysis, they are known to significantly improve the patient’s chances of mobility. As a matter of fact, a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that passive range of motion exercises have the same effect as active exercises. Therefore, those who participate in passive range of motion exercises may increase their chances of regaining muscle movement.

If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury in an accident that caused paralysis, the Los Angeles personal injury accident lawyers at McNicholas & McNicholas are here to help. Our team has the knowledge, experience, and skills to investigate your accident, collect the proper evidence, build a strong case, and stand up for your right to compensation. Call or contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation, which will be held remotely.

Please keep in mind that the information found in this article is not intended to be legal advice. Every case is unique and different. If you would like legal advice about your specific accident or injury, consider speaking with an attorney at your earliest convenience.