Paralysis is one of the most extreme injuries a person can suffer. Often it occurs because of a spinal cord injury, resulting in partial or complete paralysis. And after such an injury, the process of treating and coping with it has only just begun. Unlike many injuries, paralysis often tends to be permanent, which makes living with paralysis a very difficult task. Besides its physical demands, the victim must handle the tough mental requirements of his or her injury while adjusting to a new way of life – a life involving permanent disability. Life must be approached with a new outlook, and that can be very emotional for family members and loved ones. If the victim is the sole earner of a family, it becomes even more difficult for the family to lead a normal life.
Depending on which part of the spinal cord is damaged, one can experience different losses of function or feeling. For example, if the area of the spinal cord around the neck is damaged, this could result in paralysis, such as paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Paraplegia: When the mid to low back area of the spinal cord is damaged, the resulting injury could lead to paralysis of legs – requiring the need for a wheelchair. Most paraplegics will still have full function of their arms and torso.
Quadriplegia: When the spinal cord is damaged in your upper back or neck area, the resulting injury could lead to paralysis of the legs as well as upper extremities, such as arms, hands, and fingers. In extreme cases, the ability to move the neck or head may be impaired as well.
Damage to the spinal cord may involve:
- Bruising to the spinal cord
- Scar tissue on the spinal cord
- Pinched vertebra
- Broken vertebra or vertebrae fractures
- Burst fractures