Spinal-Injury.net :  Paraplegia


What is Paraplegia?

Paralysis is a general term used to describe the loss of movements and/or sensation following damage to the nervous system. Knowing the precise level of the injury is helpful in predicting which parts of the body will be affected by paralysis and loss of function.

Paraplegia describes complete or incomplete paralysis affecting the legs and possibly also the trunk, but not the arms. The extent to which the trunk is affected depends on the level of spinal cord injury. Paraplegia is the result of damage to the cord at T1 and below.

Injuries at the thoracic level and below result in paraplegia, with the hands not affected. At T-1 to T-8 there is most often control of the hands, but poor trunk control as the result of lack of abdominal muscle control. Lower T-injuries (T-9 to T-12) allow good truck control and good abdominal muscle control. Sitting balance is very good. Lumbar and Sacral injuries yield decreasing control of the hip flexors and legs.

Besides a loss of sensation or motor functioning, people with SCI also experience other changes. For example, they may experience dysfunction of the bowel and bladder,. Sexual functioning is frequently impaired or lost with SCI. Men may have their fertility affected, while a women's fertility is generally not affected. Other effects of SCI may include low blood pressure, inability to regulate blood pressure effectively, reduced control of body temperature, inability to sweat below the level of injury, and chronic pain.

T-1 injuries are the first level with normal hand function. They can perform all motor functions of a non-injured person, with the exception of standing and walking.  As thoracic levels proceed caudally, intercostal and abdominal musculature recovery is present, and there is improved respiratory function and trunk balance as a result. Some complete lower injuries have partial trunk movement and may be able to stand, with long leg braces and a walker, and may be able to walk short distances using this equipment,  with assistance. T6-12 patients also have partial abdominal muscle strength, and may be able to walk independently for short distances with long leg braces and a walker or crutches (The working abdominal muscles are used to throw the paralysed legs forward whilst the body weight is taken on a frame or crutches)

Attempting this form of walking is normally a decision taking in a medical environment.  It takes a lot of determination and strength to achieve any success with this sort of walking.  It isn't for everyone,  indeed many complete paraplegics won't even want to try it.

Incomplete Paraplegia - TetraplegiaComplete SCI - Incomplete SCI - Treatment - Complications - Causes of SCI - My Injury

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Spinal-Injury.net :  Paraplegia



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