Paraplegia is a spinal cord injury that paralyses the lower limbs. It is a result of severe damage to the spinal cord and the nervous system. Paraplegia mainly affects the trunk, legs, and the pelvic region, resulting in loss of movement.
Causes of Paraplegia
- Severe spinal cord injury
- Motor neuron disease
- Cancerous cell growth, tumors or blood clots within spinal cord
- Spina bifida
- Prolonged diseases
- Alcohol addiction
There are two main categories - complete and incomplete. Complete paraplegia is witnessed when the injury affects the patient at the neurological level and it hinders the movement of limbs, whereas in case of incomplete paraplegia, some of the limbs are still moving.
Symptoms of Paraplegia
- Loss of ability to feel and move
- No control over bowel and bladder activities
- Intense pain or tingling sensation in the trunk, legs, and the pelvic region
- Problems in breathing and coughing
- Sexual function and fertility can be affected
There are no apparent symptoms that could be seen. Moreover, there may be delayed symptoms like numbness and paralyses.
Diagnosis of Paraplegia
The doctors may diagnose paraplegia with the help of one of the following tests:
- Computerized CT Scan for a better understanding of the severity of the injury
- X-rays to examine any tumors or fractures in the spine
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to test for blood clots or any mass formation that may compress the spinal cord
Treatment of Paraplegia
In the early stage, treatment is possible through medication and traction for immobilization. Surgery or experimental treatments can also be conducted.
While the patient is undergoing a treatment, doctors focus on preventing secondary problems like bowel and bladder issues, blood clots, pressure ulcers and respiratory infections. Any hospitalization will depend on the patient’s condition.
In the case of complete paraplegia, there are new technologies that may restore movement.
Recovery may start from the first week or it may take up to six months to experience improvement. However, there may be no permanent treatment for this condition.