February 10, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Finding simple answers to complicated questions can be difficult, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. I imagine you arrived here in search of answers on paraplegia, but you probably didn’t know exactly what you were looking for. That’s OK – by the end of this, I bet there’s a good chance your question will be answered.
So about paraplegia. Let’s discuss what that means first. Paraplegia refers to loss of function in the lower extremities; namely, your legs. This is a different condition from quadriplegia, where all four of your limbs experience loss of function.
There are various reasons a person could lose function in the legs, such as debilitative diseases like MS. However, the most common reason is a spinal cord injury.
Complete and incomplete paraplegia
There aren’t actually any levels of paraplegia – instead, it’s split into two different types: complete and incomplete. As you may have guessed, incomplete paraplegia means you have some function in your legs; complete paraplegia will leave you with no function at all.
What’s behind the difference?
As I explained above, spinal cord injuries are usually to blame for paraplegia, and the extent of the injury has a direct impact on the extent of your paralysis.
The spinal cord is an integral part of the central nervous system, which is why spinal cord injuries cause paralysis. The spinal cord is also quite long with many individual vertebrae. The vertebrae that are injured will determine the part of your body that becomes paralyzed.
For instance, injuries to vertebrae in the thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions of the spinal cord could lead to paraplegia. Generally, injuries in the thoracic region are more prone to cause paralysis of the legs, and the lower area of the region (beneath the T6 vertebrae) is especially problematic.