Spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, severe facial lacerations, and broken bones may make up the list of the most severe types of injuries that occur from car accidents. However, there are equally debilitating types of trauma that can linger for months, years, or a lifetime. Many car crash survivors experience chronic back or neck pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, torn ligaments that will never be as strong as they once were, and scars that will never fade. One of the lesser known but equally serious injuries is vocal cord paralysis. Vocal cord paralysis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is when the nerve impulses in the larynx become damaged, rendering one or both vocal cords incapable of normal function. Symptoms of vocal cord paralysis include difficulty breathing, speaking, or consuming food without choking. Vocal cord paralysis is a very serious, life-altering injury that can take months or years to recover. If you have been injured in a California motor vehicle collision and are suffering from the incredibly difficult effects of vocal cord paralysis, contact an experienced car accident attorney today to discuss your case.
Vocal Cord Injuries
The vocal cords are two flexible but delicate muscles within the throat near the entrance of the trachea. Vocal cords perform two important duties. They vibrate when air is passed between them to create noise (speech). And, when they are at rest, they lay in a closed position to block the air passage from food or liquid. In most cases, only one vocal cord is paralyzed, which can result in some difficulties speaking, breathing, and consuming food. But, if both vocal cords are paralyzed, the victim may require an emergency tracheotomy to be able to breathe. A tracheostomy is an incision into the esophagus that enables a person to breath when their normal air passage is blocked or damaged. Paralysis can occur from a hard blow to the head, neck, or chest, or from severe whiplash. Even when confined by a seat belt, car accident victims may come into contact with debris, steering wheels, other parts of the car, or even their own body parts such as an arm or knee.
Signs of Vocal Cord Paralysis
If you notice any of the following symptoms after a car accident, you may need to see a doctor about the possibility of vocal cord paralysis:
- Trouble breathing
- Loud breathing
- Out of breath when speaking
- Raspy or breathy voice
- Inability to speak loudly
- Need to clear throat constantly
- Inefficient cough
- No gag reflex
- Trouble swallowing food or liquid
- Choking or coughing while eating
- Monotone voice
Compensation for Vocal Cord Paralysis
Because vocal cord paralysis is generally a long-term injury, it can mean serious implications to your normal life. The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that a victim of vocal cord paralysis may need a year or more of healing before surgery can be attempted. Contact an experienced California car accident attorney at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers for legal advice.