One of the scarier injuries you can receive is losing one of your senses. To be able to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste are incredibly important, and while it is, of course, entirely possible to function happily and successfully without one of the five senses, the challenges that this entails are profound. And, an injury to your vocal cords poses a threat to losing part of one of those senses: the ability to speak. When your head, throat, or chest take a hard blow from an object, you are at risk of vocal cord paralysis, which can impair your ability to speak, breathe, and consume food. Vocal cord paralysis can happen from a car collision, work accident, a slip and fall, a sports injury, or other instances when a hard, forceful object comes into contact with the upper half of your body. If you have been injured by another party’s negligent actions, whether it was a slippery floor or distracted driving, you may be owed compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.
Vocal Cord Paralysis According to the Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic defines vocal cord paralysis as an injury to the nerve impulses within the larynx, which causes temporary or permanent speaking, breathing, eating, and drinking difficulties. Two flexible muscles make up your vocal cords, which sit by the entrance of the trachea. They not only create sound, but also close the airways off when you aren’t speaking so that food and liquid do not pass into the lungs. When one vocal cord is paralyzed, the victim may have a quiet, breathy voice and may choke and cough when consuming food and drink. However, when both vocal cords are paralyzed, which is more rare, the victim may have trouble breathing and require a tracheotomy, which is an incision within the throat into the esophagus that lets air in through a plastic opening.
Signs of Vocal Cord Paralysis
If you have been hit by an object in the throat, head, or chest, or suffered severe whiplash, you may experience some of the following symptoms of whiplash:
- Need to clear throat constantly;
- Out of breath all the time, even when speaking quietly;
- Vocal pitch is lost;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Breathy or extra quiet voice;
- Inefficient cough (continue to cough afterwards);
- Unable to swallow food without choking and coughing; and
- Diminished gag reflex.
Vocal Cord Paralysis May Last a Year or More
Most health care experts will persuade victims of vocal cord paralysis to wait at least one year before undergoing surgery to fix the problem. The reason for this is that, in most cases, vocal cord paralysis will go away on its own with the help of strengthening by speech therapy. If the vocal cords to not heal within a year, surgery may be required, which involves sutures or an implant to bring the vocal cords closer together, according National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. If you have been injured by another and have suffered vocal cord paralysis, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.