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Spinal Cord Injury: Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Injuries

Welcome to Apparelyzed, a free spinal cord injury peer support website run by individuals with spinal cord injuries. Here you will find health information which has been submitted, and is discussed between the spinal injury community. Please use the links on the left of this page to navigate the website, and the section index below to navigate this page. We hope you find the website useful, and consider joining in on some of the discussions in the spinal cord injury forum.

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Spinal cord injuryWhat is a Spinal Cord Injury ?

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is generally defined as damage or trauma to the spinal cord that results in a loss or impaired function. The paralysis from the damaged spinal cord may affect mobility, sensation, bladder function, bowel function or sexual function.

When a person has been paralysed due to a spinal cord injury, paraplegic and quadriplegic (tetraplegic) are terms used to describe the resultant medical condition. The classification of spinal cord injury depends on the spinal cord injury level and severity of a persons paralysis, and how it affects their limbs.

The spinal cord injury level is usually referred to alpha numerically, relating to the affected segment in the spinal cord, ie, C4, T5, L5 etc.

Common causes of damage to the spinal cord are trauma (car/motorcycle accident, gunshot, falls, sports injuries, physical attacks), or disease (Transverse Myelitis, Polio, Spina Bifida, Friedreich's Ataxia, spinal cord tumour, spinal stenosis, etc.). The resulting damage to the spinal cord is known as a lesion, and the paralysis is known as quadriplegia or quadraplegia / tetraplegia if the injury is in the cervical (neck) region, or as paraplegia if the injury is in the thoracic, lumbar or sacral region.

It is possible for someone to suffer a broken neck,or a broken back without becoming paralysed. This occurs when there is a fracture or dislocation of the vertebrae, but the spinal cord has not been damaged. Sometimes minor swelling of the spinal cord will result in temporary paralysis, which can be recovered from after several weeks or months.

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What is a Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

There are typically two types of lesions associated with a spinal cord injury. These are known as a complete spinal cord injury and an incomplete spinal cord injury. A complete type of injury means the person is completely paralysed below their lesion. An incomplete injury, means only part of the spinal cord is damaged. A person with an incomplete injury may have sensation below their lesion but no movement, or visa versa. There are many types in incomplete spinal cord injuries, and no two are the same.

Such injuries are known as Brown Sequard Syndrome, Central Cord Syndrome, Anterior Cord Syndrome and Posterior Cord Syndrome.

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What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

The spinal cord ends around L1-L2, this area is known as the conus medullaris. From the conus medullaris spinal nerves branch out individually and this bundle of nerves are referred to as the cauda equina or "horse-tail". These nerves branch off the lower end of the spinal cord and contain the nerve roots from L1-5 and S1-5. Injury resulting in paralysis to these nerve roots is referred to as cauda equina syndrome.

If you would like to read more about people's experiences of Cauda Equina Syndrome, please visit the discussion area of the Cauda Equina Syndrome Forum.

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What is the Difference Between Quadraplegic, Tetraplegic, Paraplegic and it's Definition

Quadraplegic is derived from two separate words from two different languages, Latin and Greek. The word “Quadra”, meaning “four” which is derived from Latin, relates to the number of limbs. “Plegic”, is derived from the Greek word “Plegia”, meaning paralysis.

Put the two together, and you have “Quadraplegia”.

“Tetra” is derived from the Greek word for “Four”. “Para” is derived from the Greek word for "two" Hence: Tetraplegic and Paraplegic.

In Europe, the term for 4 limb paralysis has always been tetraplegia. The Europeans would never dream of combining a Latin and Greek root in one word.

In 1991, when the American Spinal Cord Injury Classification system was being revised, the definition of names was discussed. The British are more aware of Greek versus Latin names. Since Plegia is a Greek word and quadri is Latin, the term quadriplegia mixes language sources. Upon review of the literature, it was recommended that the term tetraplegia be used by the American Spinal Cord Association so that there are not two different words in English referring to the same thing.

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What is Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation for individuals with a spinal cord injury combines physical therapies with skill-building activities. These activities will usually take place at a specialist center such as a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center or spinal injury center. A rehabilitation team will usually oversee activities and include a doctor specialising in spinal injuries, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, sports educators, rehabilitation nurses, rehabilitation psychologists, vocational counselors and nutritionists.

Generally, paraplegics will be in hospital for around 5 months, where as quadriplegics can be in hospital for around 6 - 8 months, whilst they undergo rehabilitation. Both paraplegics and quadriplegics should have some kind of rehabilitation and physiotherapy before they are discharged from hospital, to help maximise their potential, or help them get used to life in a wheelchair, and to help teach techniques which make everyday life easier.

Disabled sports, and wheelchair based sports can be an excellent way to build stamina, and help in rehabilitation by giving confidence and better social skills. The ultimate reward for many disabled sportsmen and women, is to win at the paralympic games, which will be coming to Rio, Brazil in 2016.

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Is There a Cure for a Spinal Cord Injury?

A cure for long term paralysis is still some years in the future, but clinical trials are taking place with olfactory en sheathing glial (OEG) cells and embryonic stem cell based therapy. The research area of the forum is where topic discussing research for a cure for spinal cord injuries can be found: Spinal Cord Injury Cure Research

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Disability Benefits and Incapacity Benefits Advice - DLA - PIP - ESA

The Welfare Reform Act is changing the way benefits in the UK are assessed and awarded. The Disability Benefits forum is for discussions related to changes and assessment issues regarding Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Visit the Disability Benefits Advice Forum.

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spinal cord injury surferAims of This Website

This website provides peer support for those affected by spinal cord injuries. When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, there will be a wide variety of issues to cope with.

The following topics are the most common areas this website addresses:

  • Acute spinal cord injury support.
  • Chronic spinal cord injury support.
  • Incontinence support.
  • Rehabilitation.
  • Prevention of pressure sores.
  • Pain management.
  • Mobility issues - wheelchairs, adapted cars, motorbikes.
  • Accessible holidays.
  • Stem cell research and stem cell therapy.
  • Raising spinal cord injury awareness.

It has always been the view of Apparelyzed that when you live with a spinal cord injury, there are many issues in life which need solving by a different and quite a often unique approach. The forum area helps to enable individuals to think differently about solving practical problems, and therefore helps to enable independence through the social interaction with others who have had similar experiences.

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Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Discussion Forum

If you have any spinal injury related questions, please visit our discussion forums and join in on the many topics there. We will do our best to help you, or at the very least, put you in contact with someone who can help if we can't. The discussion forum is intended to be a free flow of information between spinally injured people, carers, and their friends, and everyone is welcome. Even if you don't have any questions, take a look at the forum anyway, as you may be able offer help and advice to others who have questions.

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Additional Spinal Injury Resources

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

Countries around the word hold spinal cord injury awareness days to promote the work charities do to help those with spinal injuries. The awareness days also provide an opportunity for charities and non profit organisations to reach out to those existing spinal injured individuals, who are not aware of the support services charities can provide.

Disabilities wheelchair humour humor

Paralympic Games

There's a new area on the forum for the discussion of both the Winter Paralympic Games and the Summer Paralympic Games.

Contribute to the Paralympic Games Forum >>>


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Help to spread awareness about this website by printing this spinal cord injury poster and putting it up in your spinal injury center or spinal rehabilitation center.

Aspire spinal cord injury charity

Top 5 Causes of
Spinal Cord Injuries

Motor Vehicle Crashes: 42.1%
Falls: 26.7%
Violence: 15.1%
Other/Unknown: 8.6%
Sports Injuries: 7.6%

Injuries since 2005 - Source: www.spinalcord.uab.edu


If you run a website which deals with quadriplegia, paraplegia or spinal cord injuries, or is targeted at a paraplegic or quadriplegic person, we would be more than happy for you to link to us, and would be prepared to add a reciprocal link in kind. You can either make up a link to us, or use the code on our links page.


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