Paraplegia

(Paralysis; Loss of Movement)

Definition

Paraplegia is the word used to describe the body's loss of movement and/or feeling as a result of an injury to the nervous system. Paraplegia is complete or partial paralysis of the lower half of the body.Some people may resume some function. Many people with paraplegia may have long-term loss of function.
Paraplegia
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Causes

Injury to the nervous system is the most common cause of paraplegia. Common injuries and other causes include:
  • Broken neck
  • Broken back
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Genetic disorder (hereditary spastic paraplegia)
  • Congenital (present at birth)
  • Infection
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Tumor (either within the spinal cord or pushing on the spinal cord)
  • Syrinx (a spinal cord disorder)

Risk Factors

Paraplegia is often the result of an accident. People who participate in high-risk or high-contact sports or those who drive recklessly may be at greater risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms will depend on how much of the spinal cord is involved. Symptoms include:
  • Loss of movement or muscle control in the legs, feet, toes, or trunk
  • Loss of feeling in the legs, feet, toes, or trunk
  • Tingling in the legs, feet, toes, or trunk
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Sexual difficulties

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Neurosurgeons, orthopedists, and neurologists are involved in diagnosis after a paralytic injury has occurred.Images may need to be taken of your spine. This can be done with:Your bodily fluids may need to be tested. This can be done with:An evoked potential nerve test may also be done to evaluate the nerve's pathways.

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