Paralysis is a general term used to describe the loss of movements and or sensation following damage to the nervous system.
Quadriplegia / Tetraplegia: is when a person has a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebra, paralysis usually affects the cervical spinal nerves resulting in paralysis of all four limbs. In additional to the arms and legs being paralyzed, the abdominal and chest muscles will also be affected resulting in weakened breathing and the inability to properly cough and clear the chest. People with this type of paralysis are referred to as Quadriplegic or Tetraplegic.
Paraplegia due to a spinal cord injury results in an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower half of a person's body. The condition occurs due to damage to the cellular structure of the spinal cord within the spinal canal. The area of the spinal cord which is affected in paraplegia is either the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions of the spinal column. If the arms are also affected by paralysis, quadriplegia / tetraplegia is the correct terminology.
Paraplegia describes complete or incomplete paralysis affecting the legs and possibly also the trunk, but not the arms. The extent to which the trunk is affected depends on the level of spinal cord injury. Paraplegia is the result of damage to the cord at T 1 and below.
Injuries at the thoracic level and below result in paraplegia, with he hands no affected. At T-1 to T-8 there is most often control of the hands, but poor trunk control as the result of lack of abdominal muscle control. Lower T-injuries (T-9 to T-12) allow good trunk control and good abdominal muscle control. Sitting balance is very good. Lumbar and Sacral injuries yield decreasing control of the hip flexors and legs.
Besides a loss of sensation or motor functioning, people with SCI also experience other changes. For example, they may experience dysfunction of the bowel and bladder. Sexual functioning is frequently impaired or lost with SCI. Men many have their fertility affected, while a women's fertility is generally not affected. Other effects of SCI may include low blood pressure inability to regulate blood pressure effectively, reduced control of body temperature, inability to sweat below the level of injury and chronic pain.
T-1 injuries are the first level with normal hand function. They can preform all motor function of a non- injured person, with the exception of standing and walking. As thoracic levels proceed caudally, intercostal and abdominal musculature recovery is present, and there is improved respiratory function and truck balance as a result. Some complete lower injuries have partial trunk movement and may be able to stand, with long leg braces and a walker, and may be able to walk short distances using this equipment, with assistance. T6-12 patients also have partial abdominal strength, and may be able to walk independently for short distances with long leg braces, and a walker or crutches (The working abdominal muscles are used to throw the paralyzed legs forward whilst the body weight is taken on a frame or crutches).
As a result of decreased loss of feeling or function in the lower extremities, paraplegics can be susceptible to a number of secondary medical complication. These include pressure sores (decubitus), thrombosis, low blood pressure, autonomic dysreflexia and pneumonia. Dysfunction of the bowel and bladder will usually also occur. Sexual functioning is frequently impaired or lost with SCI. Men have their fertility affected, while a woman's fertility is generally not affected. Physiotherapy and various assistive technology, such as a standing frame, as well as vigilant self observation and care may aid in helping to prevent future and mitigate existing complications.
As paraplegia is most often the result of a traumatic injury to the spinal cord tissue and the resulting inflammation, other nerve related complications can and do occur. Cases of chronic nerve pain in the areas surrounding the point of injury are not uncommon. There is speculation that the "phantom pains" experienced by individuals suffering from paralysis could be a direct result of these collateral nerve injuries misinterpreted by the brain.
Once the patient is stabilized, care and treatment focuses on supportive care and rehabilitation. Family members, nurses, and specially trained caregivers can give supportive care. This care might include helping the patient bathe, dress, change positions, to prevent bedsores, and other assistance.
Rehabilitation often includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling for emotional support. Each program is designed to meet the patients unique needs.
Benefits from using the PMTD:
- Facilitates detoxification of the body
- Improved absorption of nutrients and medication
- Decreased pain
- Improved Range of Motion (ROM) and joint flexibility
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary circulation
- Increased muscle tone
- Improved muscle balance and corrdination
- Strengthened postural muscles, which can slow the formation of scoliosis
- Increased stamina and strength
- Smooth - low impact movements with PMTD improved circulation, digestion, balance, coordination, and strength
- Prevention of muscle atrophy and wasting
- Coordinated arm and leg movements
- Improved mood
- Improved overall function in daily actives (ADLs)
- Improved quality of life
Paraplegia & Quadriplegia