Scientists believe spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis when they sever a connection between the brain and the rest of the body. These severed connections don't heal the same way other parts of the body heal, and so doctors generally believe these injuries are permanent.
In recent years, researchers have begun wondering if that is always the case. Some paralyzed patients have been able to move their extremities or even walk, with support, after therapy with electrical stimulation.
In some cases, researchers have helped even long-paralyzed patients to regain some control over their extremities, or to see improvements in bowel, bladder and sexual function.
These electrical stimulation treatments are still in experimental stages, and may not work for every patient. There are extremely long waiting lists to get on some of the trials. People who have been paralyzed for a long time have, no doubt, been disappointed many times after reading about promising new treatments that don't pan out. Still, any news of a breakthrough is welcome.
Ultimately, medical treatment of spinal cord injuries is still in its infancy. People suffering from these injuries face enormous medical and rehabilitative costs, and are often unable to work for a living. Many need long-term or even around-the-clock care.
When spinal cord injuries are the result of a car accident or another accident caused by the negligence of another party, the injured may recover compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Because the damages are likely to be very high in these cases, the disputes can be legally, technically and emotionally difficult. It is extremely important that the injured and their families seek out help from an experienced personal injury attorney.