Name = Paraplegia

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Paraplegia is an impairment in motor and/or sensory function of the lower extremities. It is usually the result of spinal cord injury or a congenital condition such as spina bifida which affects the neural elements of the spinal canal. The area of the spinal canal which is affected in paraplegia is either the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions. If the arms are also affected by paralysis, tetraplegia is the proper terminology.


The causes range from trauma (acute spinal cord injury: transsection or compression of the cord, usually by bone fragments from vertebral fractures) to tumors (chronic compression of the cord), myelitis transversa and multiple sclerosis.

Peripheral nervous system

Rarer is the type which is caused by damage to the nerves supplying the legs. This form of damage is not usually symmetrical and would not cause paraplegia, but polyneuropathy may cause paraplegia if motor fibers are affected. While in theory the arms should also be affected, the fibers that supply the legs are longer and hence more vulnerable to damage. Larry Flynt, noted pornography magnate, sustained this form of nerve damage when he was shot in a murder attempt in 1978, rendering him paraplegic.


Due to decreased movement and loss of the ability to run, paraplegia may cause numerous medical complications, many of which can be prevented with vigilant self care. These include pressure sores (decubitus), thrombosis and pneumonia. Physiotherapy and also various assistive technology, such as a standing frame, may aid in preventing these complications.

See also

*Cauda equina syndrome

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Paraplegia — Par a*ple gi*a, Paraplegy Par a*ple gy, n. [NL. paraplegia, fr. Gr. ? hemiplegia, fr. ? to strike at the side; para beside + ? to strike: cf. F. parapl[ e]gie.] (Med.) Palsy of the lower half of the body on both sides, caused usually by disease… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • paraplegia — /paraple dʒia/ s.f. [dal gr. paraplēgía, comp. di para para 2 e plēgía plegia ]. (med.) [perdita della capacità di muovere gli arti inferiori] ▶◀ ‖ paresi. ⇑ paralisi …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • paraplegia — [par΄ə plē′jē ə, par΄ə plē′jə] n. [ModL < Gr paraplēgia, a stroke at one side: see PARA 1 & PLEGIA] motor and sensory paralysis of the entire lower half of the body paraplegic [par΄əplē′jik, par΄əplej′ik] adj., n …   English World dictionary

  • paraplegia — (n.) paralysis of the lower half of the body, 1650s, coined in Modern Latin from Ionic Gk. paraplegie paralysis of one side of the body, from paraplessein strike at the side, paraplessesthai be stricken on one side, from para beside (see PARA (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • paraplegia — s. f. [Medicina] Paralisia dos dois membros inferiores do corpo, geralmente acompanhada de paralisia do abdômen, bexiga e reto.   ‣ Etimologia: para + plegia …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • paraplegia — ► NOUN ▪ paralysis of the legs and lower body. DERIVATIVES paraplegic adjective & noun. ORIGIN Greek, from parapl ssein strike at the side …   English terms dictionary

  • paraplegia — paraplegic /par euh plee jik, plej ik/, adj., n. /par euh plee jee euh, jeuh/, n. Pathol. paralysis of both lower limbs due to spinal disease or injury. [1650 60; < NL < Gk paraplegía. See PARA 1, PLEGIA] * * * ▪ pathology        paralysis of the …   Universalium

  • paraplegia — [[t]pæ̱rəpli͟ːʤə[/t]] N UNCOUNT Paraplegia is the condition of being unable to move the lower half of your body. [MEDICAL] …   English dictionary

  • paraplegia — [ˌparə pli:dʒə] noun paralysis of the legs and lower body, typically caused by spinal injury or disease. Compare with monoplegia. Derivatives paraplegic adjective &noun Origin C17: mod. L., from Gk paraplēgia, from paraplēssein strike at the side …   English new terms dictionary

  • paraplegia — par•a•ple•gi•a [[t]ˌpær əˈpli dʒi ə, dʒə[/t]] n. pat paralysis of both lower limbs due to spinal disease or injury • Etymology: 1650–60; < NL < Gk paraplēgía. See para I, plegia par a•ple′gic ˈpli dʒɪk, ˈplɛdʒ ɪk adj. n …   From formal English to slang

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