While paralysis might be the general term to refer to spinal cord damage and the resultant injuries, medical professionals classify four different types of paralysis based on four main characteristics. Depending on numerous factors such as the type of impact and the location of the injury along the spine, individuals can suffer different degrees and durations of paralysis.
Doctors can classify paralysis based on several characteristics, but the four most common types are:
- Severity is measured by the degree to which muscle function is lost. The loss can be partial or complete.
- Duration refers to how long the paralysis lasts. In general, based on the injury or medical condition, the paralysis can be temporary, periodic or permanent.
- Muscle tension refers to how the muscles are impacted by the spinal cord damage. Flaccid paralysis can cause the muscles to shrink or deteriorate while spastic paralysis can lead to muscle stiffness, involuntary spasms and muscle weakness.
- Location refers to the position on the spine the damage occurs. In essence, the higher up along the spinal cord, the greater the chance for significant injury. Paralysis can be either localized or generalized and can fall into four categories:
- Monoplegia: Paralysis that affects one limb such as an arm or a leg.
- Hemiplegia: Paralysis that affects both the arm and the leg on the same side of the body.
- Paraplegia: Paralysis that affects both legs and often impacts the hips and organs in the lower abdomen.
- Quadriplegia: Paralysis that affects both arms and legs. Additionally, quadriplegia can impact the muscles in the body trunk and the function of the internal organs.
Spinal cord injuries can result from a motor vehicle collision, a fall from height, or being crushed by falling debris or toppled equipment. The damage can be significant and lifelong. It is crucial that you act quickly to learn more about your options for monetary recovery or workers’ compensation benefits through the legal process.