Paraplegia is a condition that some people suffer from after their spines have been severely injured. The spinal cord is basically a column of extremely sensitive nerves that control both the feeling and the motion of all the body's limbs. If these nerves are damaged, a person can lose the ability to feel as well as the ability to move their arms and legs. With paraplegia, it is a total or partial loss of function of just the lower extremities.
Quadriplegia is a total or partial loss of function in all of the extremities. Although injury is not the only cause of this condition, it is the primary one. With rehabilitation, some people with paraplegia can even walk. This is because some people retain control over their leg muscles, although extremely weakened. Many of those people who have lost function of their legs are confined to wheelchairs for the duration of their lives.
The spine is broken up into four different sections. The uppermost section is the neck and those are labeled as the C1 through the C8. The next section of the spine is T1 through T12. Injuries to the spinal column that occur as high as the T1 can cause paraplegia. The next section is the sacral region which is labeled L1 through L5. Finally, there is the S1 through the S5. The "T" stands for thoracic, and any injury that occurs here or below has the potential to cause paraplegia although T1 through T8 injuries most commonly affect the arms and hands.
Due to the fact that this type of spinal cord injury directly affects the lower extremities, it can even mean that a person has to be hooked up to a catheter or confined to a bed pan because they have lost function of their bowels and urinary functions. Paraplegics are confined to sitting or lying down which could mean they are more prone to bed sores and thrombosis. This is why rehabilitative activities are necessary. Such an extreme injury may leave people feeling hopeless, but there are some treatments that could improve health. Many people after rehabilitation have regained some function, but this must be done with vigilance.
Together with the brain, the spinal cord makes up the Central Nervous System. This is the system by which the entire body operates. All sensation originates from this highway of nerves. Sensation is interpreted through these nerves, so if the nerves are damaged, then a person can lose the ability to feel. The reasoning behind paraplegia rehabilitation is again reuniting the brain with the limbs. Since the spinal cord is the medium by which the brain interprets sensation from the limbs, spinal cord damage means that the brain has to re-learn its role.
Did you know that the main purpose of spinal vertebrae is to protect the nerves that lie beneath? If these vertebrae are crushed or fractured in any way, the sensitive nerves are exposed. Depending on the extent of that trauma, the injury will be more or less severe. There are 33 vertebrae in the average human back, 31 pairs of nerves, and 40 muscles that run down our backs. This complicated system can be thrown off balance by a spinal cord injury. Aggressive rehabilitation may be able to restore some function, but it may only be made possible if the medical expenses are provided for. If your accident took place while working, Arnold & Itkin may be able to help.
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