January 11, 2016 | 5:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Although we focus on disabled individuals here, we are constantly learning new things about them and their lifestyles. What makes them tick, what their needs are, etc. And something I discovered recently was that some wheelchair users don’t like for people to assume they were in a bad car accident.
It’s not that accident-induced paralysis isn’t common; it’s that you shouldn’t paint with such a broad brush. For instance, would you assume that every lung cancer victim was a smoker? Sure, the numbers might say most are, but it’s still rude to assume.
So what kind of injuries will result in someone becoming wheelchair-bound? Here are five of the most common:
Spinal cord injury
This is probably the one you’re most familiar with. The human nervous system can be devastated by spinal cord injuries, which normally occur as the result of blunt force trauma. Car accidents are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries, but people have become paralyzed after horseback riding falls, football collisions and even diving into shallow water.
I hesitated to include this on the list, because who the heck gets polio in this country anymore? But although we created a vaccine for this condition nearly 60 years ago, and the Americas have been polio-free since 1994, there have been recent outbreaks in the Middle East and other parts of Asia and Africa. The vast majority of polio sufferers will experience mild or no symptoms, but a small minority can lose the ability to move in parts of the body; especially the legs. The most famous polio sufferer in history was President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Even a standard concussion probably isn’t strong enough to bring paralysis into play, but very severe head injuries are a risk. If the brain receives enough damage, it’s possible to lose function in large chunks of the body.
The mechanism behind a stroke is simple: your brain is cut off from oxygen, so brain cells start to die. If enough brain cells are damaged during a stroke, that’s when paralysis occurs. This type of paralysis can be very unpredictable, since the consequences of a stroke vary wildly from patient to patient.
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
This dreaded condition is responsible for robbing us of more Annette Funicello, who was diagnosed with it in the late 80s. It operates by attacking the myelin that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. If the nerves become sufficiently damaged, you can experience muscle weakness, extreme fatigue and yes, paralysis.