Paralysis refers to a loss of sensation and motor function in part or all of the body. Paralysis can be complete or incomplete, temporary or permanent. The most common cause of paralysis is a spinal cord injury, such as a spinal fracture in a car accident. Every case and patient is unique, with different prognoses for each. Learning the types of paralysis can help you learn more about this catastrophic type of injury.
Severity Level: Complete vs. Incomplete
It is important to note that paralysis can be caused by many things, not just spine injuries. A stroke or brain injury could also result in paralysis, as could a nerve disease, bacterial infection, hereditary brain disorder, or autoimmune disease (e.g., multiple sclerosis). Neck injuries or a broken neck could also cause paralysis. However, spine injuries are one of the most common causes.
There are many different types of paralysis, just as there are many kinds of spinal cord injuries. The type of paralysis can depend on the cause of the injury, the part of the body affected, the severity of the injury and the patient’s personal traits. First, the type of paralysis is determined by whether the spinal cord injury suffered by a victim is complete or incomplete.
A complete spinal cord injury means that permanent, irreversible damage has been done to the spine. It can refer to a severed spine or another catastrophic injury that results in the total loss of function and feeling below the point of injury. An incomplete spine injury, on the other hand, is generally temporary. It means the spinal cord can heal from the injury and the victim can most likely regain function and feeling.
Quadriplegia and tetraplegia are two medical terms that are used interchangeably. They both refer to paralysis that affects a victim’s entire body, from the neck down. It is paralysis of all four limbs, the trunk of the body and the neck. It is typically caused by a traumatic injury to the cervical spinal cord – the uppermost seven bones or vertebrae in the spine. An injury to this top portion of the spine can result in the loss of feeling and motor function from the neck down.
Paraplegia is a type of paralysis that affects a victim from the waist down, typically due to an injury to the middle of the spine (the thoracic or lumbar spine). With paraplegia, a victim may experience paralysis of the legs and lower body. Paraplegia may also affect bowel and bladder function, as well as sexual organ function.
Monoplegia refers to paralysis in a localized area of the body, typically a limb, such as one arm or one leg. The leading cause of monoplegia is cerebral palsy. This is a group of disorders that affect a victim’s ability to move. Health problems such as strokes, tumors, nerve damage and brain injuries can also cause monoplegia.
Hemiplegia is paralysis of one arm and one leg on the same side of the body. Hemiplegia often occurs in stages, beginning with a tingling or pins and needles sensation before progressing to muscle weakness and complete paralysis. A similar type of paralysis known as Brown-Sequard syndrome is a rare neurological condition that results in weakness or paralysis on one side of the body and loss of sensation on the other side.
It is also possible to experience paralysis of the facial muscles. This can occur due to facial nerve damage, such as trauma to an infant during birth. Facial paralysis is also a common outcome of a stroke. Facial paralysis can occur abruptly or gradually over a period of time. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any form of paralysis in Arizona, contact a personal injury lawyer about a potential claim for financial compensation.