Articles Posted in Paraplegia

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A man was born with a chromosomal condition and began receiving medical assistance from the State’s social services. He subsequently suffered an injury during his corrective spinal injury surgery, which resulted in his partial paralysis. A medical malpractice action was commenced by the man’s sister on his behalf against the hospital and several doctors where the surgery was performed. The man continued to receive medical assistance from the State’s social services and they filed a lien for recovery from any award made in the medical malpractice action, for such assistance for which the third-party offender was found to be liable.

Consequently, the parties to the medical malpractice action reached a settlement. Based upon the proposed settlement, the state’s social service agreed to accept the sum of $102,423.56 to settle the lien. The amount necessary to settle the medical claim was premised on a letter from the social services stating that it would accept that amount on the lien against the proceeds of the personal injury lawsuit, based on the proposed settlement of the lawsuit for the sum of $1,600,000. The letter further provided that the state’s social services reserved the right to collect any unpaid balance of the lien if the man reached a further settlement that provided additional proceeds or if he should receive funds from another source such as the lottery.
The settlement of the medical malpractice action was approved by the Supreme Court with the direction that payment made to the state’s social service in the amount of $102,423.56, in full satisfaction of the lien to the date of the order.

In accordance with a further direction of the Supreme Court, the man’s sister petitioned for appointment as guardian of the person and property of her brother and for approval of the creation of a supplemental needs trust. The man was declared to be an incapacitated person by order and decision and his Suffolk sister was appointed as his guardian and a supplemental needs trust was created, with the sister as trustee.

Until the Supreme Court approved the settlement of the medical malpractice action, the Nassau man possessed a claim against a third party, but he did not have any present properties or resources to meet his needs.

The medical assistance provided to the man during his lifetime may be viewed in three different parts. Those are the period, when the man received medical assistance as a result of his chromosomal condition, the period when he received medical assistance as a consequence of the failed medical procedure that left him partially paralyzed, in addition to the continued receipt of assistance attributable to his chromosomal condition and the period when he continued to receive medical assistance in spite of his receipt of assets from the settlement of the medical malpractice action.

Upon the settlement of the negligence action, the man was in possession of the properties and resources that would have rendered him ineligible for continuing medical assistance but for the special treatment accorded the assets placed in a supplemental needs trust. Based on records, there was no interruption of receipt of assistance by the man while the petition for guardianship and creation of the supplemental needs trust was pending judicial consideration. The state’s social service department is entitled for a reimbursement for all the medical assistance provided to the man.

Consequently, the court ordered to modify the decision by deleting the provision in denying the branch of motion of the state’s social services which was for reimbursement of the amount of medical assistance provided by the health program of the state to the man and substituting therefore a provision granting the branch of the motion. The order is further affirmed by the court.
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The Long Island complainant man went to the emergency room of a hospital complaining of weakness in his lower extremities and severe lower back pain. He had gone to the emergency room five days earlier complaining of left hip and back pain, and was sent home with pain medication. The pain persisted, and he began experiencing weakness in his legs, twice falling or nearly falling when his legs buckled. He was able to walk, though with difficulty. During his emergency room visit, radiographic tests, including a myelogram, were ordered, and the man was admitted to the hospital.

On the morning of 25 June 1994, the accused Manhattan anesthesiologist explained to the complainant man that he would need to administer a caudal block rather than general anesthesia for the myelogram because the man needed to be awake during the test. The radiologist performed the myelogram around 3:00 p.m. that day. The next morning, the man discovered he felt no pain, was numb from his hips down, and could not move his legs. The anesthesiologist and the nursing staff blamed the numbness and inability to move on the anesthesia, telling the man it had not yet worn off. The man thought this was strange because, in his experience, it usually took only four to five hours for the effects of anesthesia to wear off. He thought either something had gone wrong or his condition was worse than the doctors originally thought.

The myelogram revealed massive disc herniation causing spinal injury, and the accused man’s attending physician and neurologist advised the man that he urgently needed surgery. The neurologist performed a laminectomy and discectomy. However, the man remained paralyzed following the surgery.

He was discharged from the hospital on 1 July 1994 and had six subsequent office visits with the neurologist. On 3 August 1994, the man visited another doctor complaining of left shoulder pain. The doctor’s notes from that initial visit state that the man had back surgery about five weeks ago. He is paralyzed from the waist down. He states that he is paralyzed from a myelogram.

On 8 June 1995, the man served the neurologist with a notice of intent to initiate medical malpractice litigation and subsequently filed suit on 4 October 1995. The complainant man did not serve the attending physician, the anesthesiologist, the radiologist, and their employers with a notice of intent to initiate litigation until 3 January 1997. On 9 May 1997, he amended the complaint against the neurologist to add the attending physician and the others as accused.

The accused parties moved for summary judgment, arguing that the man served the notice of intent beyond the limitations period, and thus, his action against them is barred. Ruling that the statute of limitations began to run no later than 3 August 1994, the date of the man’s visit and statement to his latest doctor, the trial court entered final summary judgment for the accused parties. The court noted that the man’s paralysis is the type of injury which should start the limitations period running immediately. The man argues on appeal that the paralysis he suffered after undergoing the myelogram and surgery is not the type of injury which, standing alone, would have indicated that medical negligence possibly had occurred, thereby triggering the statute of limitations. He argues further there was a genuine factual issue regarding whether he told his latest doctor that he had been paralyzed from the myelogram or since the myelogram.

An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
The nature of the injury, standing alone, may be such that it communicates the possibility of medical negligence, in which event the statute of limitations will immediately begin to run upon discovery of the injury itself. On the other hand, if the injury is such that it is likely to have occurred from natural causes, the statute will not begin to run until such time as there is reason to believe that medical malpractice may possibly have occurred.

The evidence before the trial court showed the man was ambulatory before entering the hospital, though he was experiencing weakness in his legs and severe lumbar back pain. More than twelve hours after undergoing the myelogram, the man discovered he was still numb from his hips down and his legs were paralyzed. Although medical staff told him the numbness and paralysis were caused by the anesthetic which had not worn off, he reasonably suspected something was amiss because, in his experience, anesthetic effects dissipate in four to five hours. The man’s paralysis following the myelogram was sufficient to communicate the possibility of medical negligence. Therefore, the two-year statute of limitations began to run on or about 26 June 1994. As such, service of the notice of intent on 3 January 1997 occurred beyond the limitations period, and the man’s medical malpractice action against the accused is barred.
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A teenager’s spinal cordwas destroyed in 1978 after she received a lethal dose of radiation at a hospital she was receiving cancer treatment from. She was awarded $7.6 million by a jury.
Some believed at the time that it was the single, largest payment awarded in a malpractice suit in the U.S. After the trial, the 18-year-old said that the jury was full of “wonderful people and now I have a chance for my life.”

The girl’s lawyers said that most of the money was going to have to go toward medical payments.

The representatives for the hospital said the case “was built on circumstantial evidence.” He also called the verdict excessive and said that they most certainly were going to appeal.
The girl, confined to a wheelchair, was paralyzed in 1972 when she was receiving radiation therapy for a slow-growing cancer. The thyroid cancer was thought to be treatable; she was to go through a six-week cycle of treatment. The young woman was not suffering from cancer at the trial, but it was unknown how she had been cured of it. According to a report, witnesses prominent and knowledgeable in the field of medicine testified that the paralysis was caused by a double dose of radiation which destroyed the spinal cord.

An overlap of the radiation fields was blamed, even though no one took responsibility for it.
The jury was told that the young woman now needs 24-hour care and has a minimum of $55,000 in yearly medical expenses.

The hospital’s defense attorney who has practiced in The Bronx and Brooklyn said that the paralysis was due to an unusual reaction and nothing else. He adamantly refused to acknowledge an overdose. Again, he planned on appealing the “excessive” verdict.

Despite 10 surgeries, the young woman will most likely spend the rest of her life as a quadriplegic. She does have slight use of her right arm, but that is all. In most cases, no improvement is made after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
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“We heard the plane coming,” the plaintiff recalled. “You know when the bomb bays doors open, the bombs start to whistle. And when you hear the whistling, you know something’s going to be a bustin’.”

It took 36 years, but that man was finally compensated for the injury he received during the accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 1944 when the man’s spinal cord was severed by shrapnel. An errant bomber dropped 36 fragmentation bombs on his family’s home and land, missing his target by 10 miles.

He clearly remembers what the incoming bombs sounded like. He also remembers running. He ran almost to the front porch of his uncle’s farmhouse. Those steps proved to be his last steps – ever, taken at 12 years of age.

The boy’s father, uncle, and two of his young cousins were killed in the tragic accident.
Because of the severity of his spinal cord injury, he has been unable to take most jobs and finds it hard to hold down one he does get. Being confined to a wheelchair makes it difficult.
At the time of the settlement, 1980, the man was awarded $18,000 a year for the rest of his life – an amount that would go up as the cost of living went up. He had planned to use the money to fix up his small home.

The Department of the Army in The Bronx and Brooklyn tried to avoid the settlement by insisting that the statute of limitations for any claim was long over, but the man’s legal counsel sought Congressional help for his client who had been living on welfare payments at the poverty line.

A doctor said that cases like this should never be cases. “When one entity harms another entity, the best in human nature says the harmed should be compensated as justly as possible. It is quite unfortunate that people do not automatically try to do such. It’s really indicative of people at large when even the federal government must be legally forced to make restitution.”
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A new scientific model may help spinal cord injury specialists more quickly determine whether a patient has a good chance of walking again before surgery and physical therapy. Current models include extensive tests that may not be as conclusive. The new model was developed in the Netherlands and is based on many different studies and findings by experts in the area of spinal injury.

Components of this model include a patients’ age, range of current motor skills, and sensitivity to touch. Older tests, such as the AIS grading system, take much longer to perform and may not be as accurate. The researchers who compiled the information to create the new model claim specialists need to be experienced in performing physical examinations of those with spinal injuries in order to make a proper diagnosis using the components in the model. Many specialists in Staten Island and Westchester have the ability to perform these examinations and should be able to tell if a patient will be able to walk again.

This study about the new model was published in The Lancet. Many new studies are available at different times during the year and provide researchers around the world with new and useful information. Being able to predict quickly whether a patient will be able to walk again may prevent painful and unnecessary surgery or a grueling physical therapy regime that could cause additional injury. This may also lower medical care costs by allowing patients to leave the hospital earlier or reduce medications prescribed if additional surgery is not necessary to repair the spinal cord.

In addition to this new model, other advances in spinal injury care have been reported in journals such as PLoS One that include using human astrocytes to help speed up injury recovery by repairing nervous system injuries faster. Astrocytes are cells found in various parts of the body including the brain and spinal cord. These cells help the body repair itself after injury. Scientists have used animal astrocytes on animals and have seen good results.
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In 1982 jury, in Seattle, Washington, awarded $6.3 million to a high school football player who sustained serious spinal injuries while playing for the school’s team.

That judgment worried one school official. He worried that school boards across the country would be prompted to review the benefits of sports programs unfairly against the possible costs of lawsuits. Programs that could lead to injury, he argued, could possibly be unnecessarily cut.

At the time of the settlement, the claimant was 21 years old.

The young man was left completely paralyzed when he ran with the football in a previous 1975 game held at another school. At the age of 16, the injury left him without the use of his arms and legs. Since then, he has been confined to a wheelchair.

In his suit against the School District, the plaintiff said he was not adequately instructed by his coach of the danger of putting his head down like a battering ram when tackled. He claimed professional negligence.

Other adults, including the worried administrator, said that during their own high school careers, in their high school football programs, they were told to lower their heads when they got tackled. Apparently, the occurrence is very common in football at every level.

A coach says there was evidence showing that players were instructed to keep their heads up, but they were not warned of the potentially crippling spinal injuries that could occur if they did not.

While the school board official was worried about the verdict, the board expressed that “We share the feeling that you hate to see a boy injured.” The school was not expected to drop its football program (and it didn’t). High Schools in Nassau and Queens try to take precautions so that injuries that cause paraplegia do not happen.

The school district was expected to appeal the decision. They asserted that the boy was hurt in a freak accident and that they violated no rules. They also insisted that students must assume some risk when deciding to play the sport of football. The presiding judge said that schools have a high obligation to protect the safety of their students. The young man’s victory was bittersweet as his mother passed away from a stroke the weekend before his victory in court.
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The family of paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand has informed the school that he has been released from the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and will live with his aunt in Jackson.

LeGrand was paralyzed from the shoulders down when he suffered a spinal cord injurywhile making at tackle in a game on October 16th, 2010 against Army. He spent the time from November 8 until the end of March 2011 recuperating.

“This is an exciting day for me to return to living with family,” LeGrand said in a statement. “My family and I can’t thank Kessler enough for all the tremendous care and support I received as I continue rehab from my injury. It has meant so much to me to receive so many well wishes and prayers from everyone.”

LeGrand continues to rehabilitate as an outpatient twice a week at the Kessler Rehabilitation Center located in Ocean Township, and once a week at the Kessler facility in West Orange.
Experts could find no other updates on LeGrand’s condition at the time, but they were able to find a statement that said he has experienced full sensation in his entire body. He can also move his shoulders. The American Spinal Association impairment scale classifies his injuries as a Level B “incomplete” injury.

The director of spine surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine department of orthopedics, characterized an incomplete injury as “a spinal cord injury where sensory but not motor function is preserved below the neurological level.” People with the Level B spinal cord injury classification have a 20 to 30 percent chance of “to regain motor (function) or even walking”, said the director of spine surgery. Doctors in New York City and Long island have studied this case.

“No one can predict what’s going to happen,” he told a family friend.

LeGrand is taking college courses via teleconferencing, as well as making a number of public appearances. He is working hard to raise money for his Believe Fund, and has been spotted watching his former teammates get ready for the NFL draft at Rutgers.”
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A New York television station was awarded three Bronze Telly awards recently, one of which featured a man from Byron, New York, who suffered a paralyzing injury.

The station runs a national health care series known as “Second Opinion”, which was awarded a Bronze Telly in their health and fitness category, because of an episode it produced on spinal cord injuries. The series features a doctor as a host who deliberates over medical cases with a panel of experts. They debate the diagnostic procedures the medical professionals employ, how the test results are interpreted, and decide upon the best course of action for the patient in question.

The victim on this particular award-winning show was a Bryon man who fell 20 feet out of a tree and was paralyzed from the waist down on May 7, 2007. According to source, he fell from a tree while attempting to rescue the family pet, a cockatiel from a tree. He had climbed that same tree numerous times before.

He was stabilized by Byron Rescue Squad, then transferred by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital’s Trauma Center in Rochester. He was there for several weeks as he recovered and learned about life as a paraplegic. Hospitals in The Bronx and Brooklyn have studied these cases.

The Byron man told the story of how he has been dealing with his injury in the years since the accident. Also featured in the episode was the CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center, who had suffered a severe spinal cord injury of his own while riding his bike in 2009.
At the time of the accident, the Byron man was a full-time college student and an active member of the U.S. Air Force reserve. He was stationed at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Since the accident, experts have learned he has started a foundation to assist others who have suffered a spinal cord injury.

The show that featured him is still produced in association with the University of Rochester Medical Center and show on more than 250 PBS stations across the country Continue reading

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The Paralyzed Veterans of America’s president appeared before Congress to urge the legislative body away from affecting their health care.

“Without a doubt, the Department of Veteran Affairs is the most effective health-care provider for veterans. The VA’s specialized services, including its system of spinal cord injury (SCI) care, are incomparable resources that are not duplicated in the private sector. These services are being threatened by proposed cost-cutting measures, the drive toward so-called ‘management efficiencies’ and, unfortunately, through politics,” the Paralyzed Veterans’ president told a researcher.

Using both oral and written statements, the president pled his case before the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees. He urged immediate action on three main points. The first was the lack of staff at hospitals, especially nurses. According to Paralyzed Veterans, there are 140 nurses less than the minimum requirement for nursing personnel delivering care at the bedside. Secondly, the shortages in staff lead to fewer beds. The VA is in need of more nurses, physicians, psychologists, social workers, and therapists, but because of the lack there were 288 unavailable SCI beds in the VA system. Finally, there is a lack of long-term care when it comes to veterans who suffer spinal cord injury or dysfunction. There is no specialized SCI long-term care beds west of the Mississippi and only 150 beds in the entire VA system.

The president of Paralyzed Veterans also brought up the recommendations found in The Independent Budget (IB) for Fiscal Year 2012. This is an annual comprehensive budget and policy document created by veterans for veterans. The IB has been running for about 25 years and their latest recommendation is for $55 billion for health care, $620 million in medical and prosthetic research, $2.3 billion for benefits processing, and $2.8 billion for major and minor construction. It is Congress’s ability to see these funds allocated to best effect.

Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by members of the “Greatest Generation” of World War II – and these members had all suffered severe injuries of their own, doctors have learned.
There are also offices in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
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Spinal cord injuries can either be complete or incomplete paralysis. With a complete spinal cord injury individuals are not expected to improve. Of all of the spinal cord injuries, 50% of them are complete. When this occurs, the individual loses complete motor and sensory function where the injury occurred. Usually, paraplegia can occur at the point of the injury or below it. Most spinal cord injuries cause lower limbs to be paralyzed, a source mentioned.

An incomplete spinal cord injury can occur. There are three types of syndromes similar to thoracic spine injuries. These injuries can cause a variety of neurological deficits depending on the impact of the fracture on the spinal cord, a study stated. The three syndromes of an incomplete spinal cord injury can be anterior cord syndrome, Brown-Séquard syndrome, and central cord syndrome.

Anterior cord syndrome results in a failure of motor function and pain to happen. A loss of temperature sensation also occurs. The injury strikes in the front of the spinal cord. The limbs will regain their movement and equilibrium. The sensory inputs of the muscles and tendons are not affected by the injury. However, an individual with anterior cord syndrome does have to be cautious about what happens to the limbs after the injury to prevent bleeding or other injuries from occurring without the person realizing it, a doctor warned.

Brown-Séquard syndrome happens when the left or right side of the spinal cord is damaged. Brown-Séquard syndrome develops resulting in a loss of proprioception, which is the sense of knowing if the body is moving with the required effort, and movement of the body. An eMedicine study shows that recovery of the syndrome is good. It found that 50% to 75% one-year motor recovery occurs one or two months after the spinal injury occurs. Recovery slows after the first couple of months, but an individual with syndrome can show progress two years after the incident.

Central cord syndrome is caused by damage to the center of the spinal cord. When damage occurs, motor weaknesses occur in the upper limbs and there is a variety of sensory deficits. The damage usually occurs between the T1 and T5 levels of the upper back. Spinal concussions are also possible when a trauma to the back occurs. Temporary neurological symptoms occur which resolve themselves one or two days after they develop. Hospitals in The Bronx and Brooklyn have also found this to be true,
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