Paralysis, Body And TimeWithin the category of paralysis there are several different ways of defining the exact condition of an injured persons spinal cord injury. Depending on the type of spinal cord injury and the level of paralysis, there are two categories that you could find yourself in if you are paralyzed:Complete Paralysisusually this refers to people who are paralyzed for life from their spinal cord injury down to their feet. This condition can apply if you are quadriplegic or paraplegic.Incomplete Paralysisusually this refers to people who are paralyzed for only part of their lives from their spinal cord injury downward.To breakdown the population of America that suffers from some form of paralysis, the paralyzed community is categorized into four different types of paralysis or disabilities as a result of a spinal cord injury:
Quadriplegic, Incomplete: 31.2% of Americans With Paralysis
Paraplegic, Complete: 28.2% of Americans With Paralysis
Paraplegic, Incomplete: 23.1% of Americans With Paralysis
Quadriplegic, Complete: 17.5% of Americans With ParalysisIn addition to that, the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) can classify your spinal cord injuries according to impairment, using a ranking of A-E.
The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Scale of ParalysisA = Complete: No motor of sensory function is preserved in the sacral segments S4-S5B = Incomplete: Sensory preserved, but no motor function below the neurological level and includes sacral segments S4-S5C = Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below the neurological level and more than half of key muscles below the neurological level have a muscle grade less than 3D = Incomplete: Motor function is once again sustained below the neurological level with a least 50% of key muscles below the neurological level having a muscle grade that is higher than level 3E = Normal: Motor and sensory functioning is working as it should; no abnormalitiesThere are a few rare cases of people who are quadriplegic for a short period of their lives and over time regain the use of their limbs. On the other hand, there are numerous instances of people who are paraplegic, but never regain the use of their legs. Really, it all comes down to a case-by-case basis.
Diagnosing Your ParalysisWe are not all doctors, but it is still important to understand what goes on inside each of our bodies. Once we know what is happening beneath the skin we can get a clearer picture of how that affects the way we feel after a spinal cord injury.The following diagram and nerves mentioned paint a picture about where and how paralysis occurs on the human spinal column. Injuries that damage specific nerves at key points on the spinal cord will affect your body in different ways. Below are specific nerves on the spinal cord and the type of paralysis that occurs when damage is done to that nerve on its own.Tetraplegia: Like most paralysis, this condition can occur by way of damage to different vertebrae and nerves, specifically happening in the cervical region of the spinal column.C1-C4 Tetraplegia:
- C1-C2 may mean loss of functional sensory nerves
- C3 may have impaired breathing; can shrug shoulders, move neck
- C4 may breathe easy, but still require assistance for personal care
- C5 have functional deltoid and bicep muscles; minimal rotation and use of elbows, wrists, shoulders
- C6 have most shoulder, elbow (bending only), and active writing motions
- C7 have functional triceps, can bend and straighten elbows, as wellas enhanced finger movements
- C8 have a flexor digitorum profundus function, meaning all arm movements are intact; some weakness in the hands