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Paraplegia

Name:
Para means beside and paraplegia means the motoric paralysis of adjacent body members.

Cause:
Accident involving fragmentation of the vertebral bodies and contusion or transection of the spinal cord, syringomyelia, tumour, after-effects of anaesthesia, epidural anaesthetic, gunshot or stab wound, diseases.

Effect:
Damage of the spinal cord between the 1st and 12th thoracic vertebra (Th 1-12) and the 1st and 5th lumbar vertebra (L 1-5).
Partial paraplegia or full paralysis (paraplegia) of both legs.

Consequences:
Both legs and the trunk are paralysed below the transection of the spinal cord. The existing muscles can no longer be tensed and moved voluntarily. In the affected regions there is no longer any perceptible sensation of pain, pressure, temperature, injury and touch. Owing to this loss of depth sensitivity, the sufferer can no longer localise the position of his or her legs without being able to see them. Bowel movements and the urge to pass urine can no longer be perceived, so that there is a need for emptying the bowels and the bladder at regular intervals by artificial means.
Uncontrolled muscle cramps may cause spasms of the extensors and flexors in the legs. These can range from tembling legs to fully extended knees, hips and feet.
If the height of the paralysis on the level of Th 1-5 the respiratory volume is reduced, at Th 7-12 the abdominal muscles are affected and at Th 2-12 the muscles between the ribs are involved.

Supplying a car:
The functions of the hands and arms are completely intact. Owing to the extensive paralysis in the thoracic region there is little back and chest musculature available for active use. This may mean that stability when seated  is reduced when driving around bends and would affect the steering movements. In the case of disabled persons who have been wheelchair users for a longer period, strain and wear in the shoulder joints could cause an impairment of the movement radius at the steering wheel.
Spasms that may shoot into the legs may cause the gas or brake pedals to be pressed inadvertently. It is therefore mandatory to cover up the pedal system.

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