Vocal Cord Paralysis

March 20, 2016

Not all injuries cause serious or long-lasting pain. In fact, some cause disabilities that can be just as difficult to deal with. One of these types of injuries is called vocal cord paralysis, which is caused by a hard blow to the head, throat, or chest. Vocal cord paralysis can occur in a traffic accident, an assault, or a work or premises accident by blunt object contact. While the initial injury may have caused pain and, in many cases, is associated with other injuries, vocal cord paralysis may last longer than the contusions, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, or whiplash that it was associated with. Essentially, vocal cord paralysis causes an inability or difficulty to speak, breath properly, or eat food and drink water without coughing or choking. As one can imagine, this injury causes serious life-changes for the victim. If you or a loved one have suffered vocal cord paralysis from an accident that was not your fault, contact an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney today for a free consultation about the legal actions you may be able to take.

Defining Vocal Cord Paralysis

According to the Mayo Clinic, vocal cord paralysis is an injury of the nerve impulses within the larynx, causing temporary or even permanent difficulties in speaking, breathing, eating, and drinking. What many people do not realize is that the vocal cords, which are comprised of two flexible muscles at the entrance of the trachea, are also responsible for closing off the airway in order to eat and drink. They vibrate to create noise (to speak), and when they are at rest, they close to stop food and liquid from passing into the airway. The degree of vocal cord injury will determine how compromised their speaking, breathing, and food and liquid consumption is. Most of the time, only once vocal cord is damaged in an accident, which most likely only partially compromises the victim’s normal speaking and breathing ability. However, if both are paralyzed, the victim may need a tracheotomy in order to even breathe.

Recognizing Vocal Cord Paralysis

Those who have suffered a blow to the head, neck, or chest (or whiplash) may notice some of the issues listed below, which can indicate that one of the vocal cords is damaged.

  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Inefficient cough;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Breathy voice;
  • Trouble speaking or an extra quiet voice;
  • Necessity to clear throat;
  • No gag reflex;
  • Trouble swallowing food without choking or coughing;
  • Out of breath even when relaxed and speaking quietly; and
  • Loss of vocal pitch.

Treating Vocal Cord Paralysis

If you suspect that you are experiencing vocal cord paralysis, it is vital that you see an ear, nose and throat doctor at once. They will determine your treatment options, which will most likely involve at least one year of recovery time, during which you will undergo speech therapy to learn how to speak differently and with more efficiency. This will also increase the strength of the vocal cords. Surgery will be delayed for at least a year because, in most cases, the vocal cord will heal on its own within a year. If surgery is necessary, sutures or an implant will be used to decrease the space between the vocal cords, according National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. If you have suffered from vocal cord paralysis, contact an experienced Columbia, South Carolina personal injury attorney from the law offices of The Connell Law Firm, LLC today.