quadriplegia and paraplegia siteThe spinal cord is a large collection of nerves that function as an interconnection between our brain and the rest of our body. These nerves are responsible for transmitting important information related to our senses and the various motor responses.
When we hurt our spinal cord, we may have different injuries depending on the magnitude of the damage. The two most important groups are Complete Spinal Cord Injuries, where there is no transmission of information between your brain and destiny, and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries ( paraplegia and tetraplegia), where we retain some degree of communication.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries are quite common, affecting at least 7,000 people in the United States each year; especially young people aged 15-35. In the case of Western countries, the prevalence reaches 1.24 to 3.32 cases /100,000 inhabitants per year.
This type of injury can be further subdivided into two according to the level where the damage occurred, thus having incomplete paraplegia and tetraplegia (quadriplegia).
Initially, this type of injury can become almost indistinguishable from complete spinal cord injuries. With paraplegia, the most important characteristic that differentiates from tetraplegia is the ability to mobilize the arms.
Depending on the cause, your spinal cord may have a high level of function, even if it is not total. It is different if the cause is an infection -where we can preserve a lot of functioning-, than if it is due to some trauma such as during a traffic accident -where the commitment is much greater.
Some of the most important characteristics are:
Sensations: you can maintain the ability to feel, touch and perceive the temperature, even if it is not in the same magnitude.
Movement: depending on the degree of injury and its involvement, you will be able to mobilize certain muscle groups, although not all of them.
Pain: You maintain the ability to feel pain, but it can be very intense.
=>> Read More: Paraplegia – Everything You Need to Know
The main difference with incomplete paraplegia has to do with the origin of the lesion. Imagine the spinal cord is a long tube from which many small nerve connections emerge as it descends from the brain.
At the cervical level, the nerves responsible for the arms movement emerge, while those controlling the motion of the legs emerge lower down.
Therefore, any injury at the cervical level will cause tetraplegia – in which you cannot move either arms or legs -, and any injury under the thorax will cause paraplegia – preserving the arms movement.
=>> Read More: Tetraplegia Or Quadriplegia
Prognosis: Is There Room For Hope?
In fact, it is possible. when we have incomplete paraplegia and tetraplegia (quadriplegia)
This is not a terminal injury; rather it depends a lot on the cause. There is a high probability that you will recover all sensations and movements of your limbs. However, partial injuries that greatly damaged the spinal cord may be unrecoverable.
Even so, the rehabilitation process is long and it may take several years for your limbs to recover. Thanks to advances in technology, today we have many different techniques, therapies, and resources to increase the likelihood that you will regain the lifestyle you used to lead.