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Vocal Cord Paralysis Injury After a Car Accident

Some of the most well-known types of injuries a victim can sustain after a car accident are traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, severe contusions, burns, and broken bones, including the spinal column. However, there are plenty of less-known but still very common injuries that affect thousands of people every year following auto collisions. According to the Mayo Clinic, vocal cord paralysis happens when the nerve impulses of your larynx are damaged or disrupted. This can result in temporary or permanent paralysis of your vocal cord muscles, causing impaired speech and ability to speak and breath. Not only do your vocal cords produce sound, they also protect the airway to your lungs by keeping food and liquid from passing through your trachea. When a victim of a car accident has an injury to their head, neck, or chest, there is a chance that their vocal cords may be inured as well, resulting in vocal cord paralysis.

How the Vocal Cords Function

Under normal, healthy circumstances, the two flexible muscles, called vocal cords, that sit at the entrance of the trachea vibrate to make noise. While you aren’t speaking, they relax and stay open, allowing you to breath. They also function to keep food and drink from entering your trachea. It is most common that only one of the vocal cords is damaged in an auto accident. However, if both are injured, you may have difficulties speaking, swallowing, and breathing.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Vocal Cord Paralysis

If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms of vocal cord paralysis that started up after your auto accident, you should consider seeking medical attention for a thorough vocal cord exam:

  • Hoarseness
  • Wispy, breathy sounding voice
  • Loud breathing
  • Loss of vocal pitch
  • Inability to swallow food, water, or saliva (choking and coughing occur)
  • Out of breath during normal talking
  • Inability to talk loudly
  • Lack of gag reflex
  • Inefficient coughing
  • Necessity to constantly clear throat

Treatment Options for Vocal Cord Paralysis in Columbus, Ohio

After you have gone in to see an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) and they have determined that you do have vocal cord paralysis, they will give you a few options for recovery. Many people’s voices will return and the damage will get repaired on its own within a year, which is why many doctors delay the surgical option by at least a year, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Throughout the year following your car accident, you will likely partake in voice therapy, which includes exercises to strengthen the vocal folds and improve your ability to breath while speaking. You may also learn how to speak and use your voice in a different manner by speaking slower or opening your mouth widely. If improvements are not made within a year, surgical options are available, including inserting an implant or stitches to change the position of the laryngeal cartilage, thereby moving the vocal cords closer together. If, however, both vocal cords were paralyzed in the accident, a tracheotomy may be necessary to improve breathing.

Contact a Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have paralyzed your vocal cords in a car accident, you may be entitled to damages to help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, and property damage. Don’t hesitate to call Columbus, Ohio car accident attorney Ed Schottenstein of Schottenstein Law Offices today at (614) 467-8474.