What is paraplegia?

Damage to your central nervous system, i.e., your brain and spinal cord, from an accident can result in paralysis. The area(s) of your body that become paralyzed depend on where the injury occurred and the extent of the damage to the CNS. 

According to Winchester Hospital, paraplegia is a common and specific type of paralysis that affects the lower half of the body. This includes the legs and sometimes the lower abdomen, depending on where the injury occurred. 

Symptoms of paraplegia

The most characteristic symptom of paraplegia is the inability, or limited ability, to move your legs. As a result, you may have to use a mobility aid such as a wheelchair to get around. Your arms remain unaffected in a case of paraplegia. However, because they become your primary weight-bearing limbs, you may experience stress injuries of the elbow, wrist or shoulder. 

The lack of neural input to your lower abdomen can affect the function of your genitourinary tract. As a result, you may experience sexual dysfunction or incontinence of the bowel or bladder. Prolonged immobility can put you at risk of developing bedsores. 

Cause of paraplegia

Paraplegia due to an accident typically results from damage to the spinal cord that occurs somewhere below the neck, thereby avoiding quadriplegia by sparing your arms. The amount of paralysis that results depends on the level of your injury. For example, an injury to your middle or upper back can result in a greater degree of paralysis than one that occurs at your lower back. As a result, it can affect your abdomen and perhaps even your lower torso.