The spinal column encases a bundle of nerves called the spinal cord that make up a very important part of your nervous system. While your backbone does a good job to protect your spinal cord, serious accidents such as elevated falls and car wrecks can break through the spine’s defenses and sever the important nerves of the spinal cord. This can cause paralysis that is often permanent.
The brain is responsible for gathering and processing sensory information so that you can react accordingly. The spinal cord contains nerves that collect information before sending it to the brain and that carry out the brain’s orders for voluntary or involuntary movement. Thus, a spinal nerve injury can not only rob you of voluntary movement, but it can also prevent you from breathing on your own.
The spinal nerves can suffer damage in several different ways. First, with traumatic spinal injuries, the spinal column may be torn if the backbone itself is broken. Additionally, if something goes through the vertebrae and pierces the spinal cord itself, the delicate nerves can be torn beyond repair. Also, nerve damage that causes paralysis can result from drugs as well as different disorders.
Paralysis is often divided into two different categories: quadriplegia and paraplegia. Paraplegia occurs when the legs or lower half of the body suffers from paralysis. If the nerves are damaged in your mid- to lower back, called the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, anything below this point can lose both movement and feeling.
On the other hand, total paralysis is called quadriplegia. Quadriplegia occurs when the spinal cord is damaged much higher up, for example, at the neck. The nerves that control both your arms and legs must come through the cervical vertebrae of the neck, which is why damage to this area can be so devastating.
Paralysis, both quadriplegic and paraplegic, can rob you of your normal life. If you suffer from either quadriplegia or paraplegia due to another person’s carelessness, you should not let this go unpunished.