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Paraplegic : definition and information

Defining exactly what a paraplegic is something that can vary widely when it comes to the mindset of the person whoís crafting the description. Some individuals express sympathy or pity for that plight and consider them incapable of ever having a normal life.

Others with a broader sense of the situation know that while the paraplegic is unable to stand or walk (in certain situations), they can still maintain all the important aspects of their personality that were in evidence prior to the onset of the paraplegia.

Thatís because their brain has not been affected, nor their hands, allowing many to maintain a sense of creativity in whatever their previous interests were. If those were areas they focused on in the past, those abilities may be even more enhanced due to their greater focus.

Defining Paraplegia

The official definition describes a condition in which a person is permanently unable to feel their legs or lower half of the body due to injury, illness or congenital issue. This loss of movements or sensation is the result of damage to the nervous system. Those illnesses and issues can include such things as spina bifida, multiple sclerosis or polio.

Different Types of Paraplegia

While paraplegia prevents most individuals from using their legs, it doesnít always mean that the person has lost bowel and bladder control, or is suffering from sexual dysfunction. Thatís because where the spinal cord injury is located and whether it was a complete or partial cut can make a tremendous amount of difference.

If the cord was only damaged in the lowest portion of the spine, that means that not only can the person control their bowel and bladder, but their sexual function as well, with the bowl and bladder issues contained through the use of a catheter. All of these allow the paraplegic to more confidently enter into a potential relationship.

Some of those with upper spine injuries can still develop intimate relationships through the use of a device known as the IntimateRider. This allows for greater mobility through the use of a swing chair.

In some cases, those with lower spinal cord injuries are able to walk in some manner of form. Theyíre usually in need of crutches, canes or other assistance, but can move around, albeit in slower fashion. Otherwise, the standard wheelchair is used.

Paraplegic Statistics

In the United States, there are 250,000 people who have suffered spinal cord injuries or must deal with spinal cord issues. Approximately 52 percent (130,000) of these individuals are paraplegics, with 47 percent falling into the category of quadriplegic.

Each year, more than 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur, with the most common causes due to vehicle accidents, acts of violence and falls. Many of those injured tend to be men, with 82 percent, while more than half of the injuries occur when a person is between the age of 16 and 30.

Life Expectancy

If a person has lived as a paraplegic for more than a few years and has adjusted to their condition, then their life expectancy should continue to increase with each passing year. Thatís because the first few years after an injury are the most dangerous time for paraplegics. If theyíve gotten through that period, their overall health should be aided.

Driving Ability

Through the use of hand controls (which can also be portable), paraplegics also have the ability to drive a vehicle. Thatís because specially-attached rods fit on both the accelerator and the brake, with the paraplegic driver only pressing on the device when he needs to either stop or go.

The Standing Frame

Some paraplegics are able to stand with the assistance of technology that supports standing through alternative positioning. There are three types of standers available, with the passive (or static) is the most basic, since it merely allows a person to stand in one place. The mobile (or dynamic) allows the person to move on their own, provided that they can push their wheelchair on their own. Finally, the active allows for the most mobility, since it works in conjunction with the arms and legs.

With an increased focus on trying to actually eliminate the condition of paraplegia, there will continue to be advanced technology and innovations that aid the quality of life of the paraplegic. Until that time, their life is coming closer to that of the average person.

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