Paraplegia is a type of spinal injury that causes impairment of the motor and sensory nerve functions leading to loss of feeling or movement of the lower extremities. Paraplegia can also be described as partial or complete paralysis that mostly affects the legs,pelvic region and trunk hindering any kind of movement.
An injury or trauma to the vertebral column affects the brain and spinal cord’s ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the different parts of the body that are controlled by the sensory, motor and autonomic nerve functions. This results in loss of any kind of sensation below the thoracic region of the body and is unable to move them.
Apart from accidents, paraplegia can also occur due to spina bifida, genetic disorder, autoimmune disorders, stroke, loss of oxygen to the brain, cancerous growths in the brain or spinal column, alcohol addiction or any congenital motor neuron disease.
In this case, all the nerves don’t stop functioning and hence the patient can feel sensations and move the limbs to a certain extent
Here, the paralysis has reached the neurological level causing absolute loss of sensitivity in the lower extremities hindering any kind of movement or sensation.
Signs and symptoms of paraplegia depend on how badly the spinal column has damaged. Initially, the body seems to be in a spinal shock state which leads to flaccid paralysis and loss of muscle stretching. The other signs and symptoms include:
After the injury or accident, is there is any kind of loss of sensation, the doctor usually diagnoses paraplegia by acknowledging the patient’s complete medical history followed by a thorough physical check-up. The doctor may also carry out the following tests which include:
Paraplegia can be treated in the initial stages by medications and traction therapy to improve immobilisation. During the treatment, the doctor also makes it a point to prevent any underlying secondary problems like blood clots, pressure ulcers, bladder or bowel troubles, respiratory infections, etc. Sometimes, he may also suggest hospitalization or surgical procedures improve the condition.
Although there might not be any permanent remedy for this condition, over time researchers have found out new and evolved technologies to slowly restore movement in case of chronic conditions which may take from four to six weeks.