When a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury from an accident, it can result in paraplegia. The individual might not only lose the use of both legs, but also may suffer other impairments. Depending on the location of the injury, bladder/bowel dysfunction may occur, for example.
Although many paraplegics can learn to gain independence, some type of initial care is necessary. And in some cases, long-term care may last a lifetime. It’s important to understand how to home care for someone with paraplegia.
Day-to-Day Home Care for a Paraplegic
The type of care required on a daily basis depends on several factors. For instance, an older patient with paraplegia or a severe case might need more care.
The following are some examples of daily tasks a loved one might do for a paraplegic:
- help with getting dressed;
- running errands;
- dispensing medication; and
- assisting with transfers (bed, bath, chair, etc.).
Loved ones might have to help move the patient periodically to avoid bedsores. These wounds can develop from sitting or lying in the same position for extended periods of time. Although treatable, they can become serious injuries.
Paraplegics who have bladder/bowel dysfunction might use a catheter. Home care for a paraplegic could include getting trained on how to insert and remove a catheter. Caretakers must make sure it’s inserted correctly and kept clean to avoid the risk of infection.
Caretakers might have to drive your loved one to appointments and other places for follow-up care, rehabilitation, counseling or physical/vocational/occupational therapy.
Special Equipment Home Care for Paraplegics
One of the best ways for paraplegics to gain independence is using a wheelchair. It’s important to have a loved one try out a few before finding a good fit.
Getting the right one depends on different factors — such as age, body type and activity level. Consider the different styles, such as standard or electric wheelchairs, and how much use it will get outdoors.
Another consideration is special equipment for the vehicle. Hand control modifications allow paraplegics to continue driving. Other useful equipment includes shower chairs, cushions and transfer aids. Some of these not only help with regaining independence, but also may prevent further injury.
Home Modifications for Paraplegics
The biggest modifications made to a home help with accommodating a wheelchair. Rearrange furniture or remove barriers to allow the wheelchair to pass. Ramps or wheelchair lifts can help when entering and leaving the home or moving from one room to the next.
Reach and access are other issues to consider. Lowering cabinets or items can help. In the bathroom, the sink may need to be a pedestal style, so the wheelchair can fit underneath. Some objects might need raising in order for a wheelchair to fit, such as tables and desks.
It could be necessary to make room adjustments, such as moving your loved one’s bedroom to the first floor. To prevent falls, install grip bars in the bathroom and shower. Also, make sure mats and rugs are non-slip.
Addressing the Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury through a Personal Injury Claim
When a loved one’s injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence, it may warrant filing a claim. Damages can address the costs associated with spinal cord injuries that cause paraplegia.
The day-to-day home care for a paraplegic could mean a loss of income — not only for the patient, but also for his or her caretaker, who may not be able to work. Sometimes a family member has to stop working or reduce his/hours to take on the added responsibility of home care for a paraplegic. Lost earnings are damages that could be sought in a personal injury claim.
The costs of living can be astronomical for someone with paraplegia. Expenses for equipment and home modifications are just some of them. This doesn’t include other medical bills for treatment. Again, a personal injury claim might address these types of damages.
If someone else’s negligence caused a loved one to suffer paraplegia, such as when medical malpractice causes paralysis, contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. You can learn more about the right to pursue legal action by calling us at (800) 550-0000.