We all pretty much understand that a broken back can lead to paralysis of the legs but did you realize that it is not only that initial injury that is worrisome?  The swelling and inflammation following the injury can cause additional damage and further paralysis.

When we are talking about the paralysis of a body part, several different terms can be used and when all of this medical lingo gets thrown around, things can get confusing.  I wanted to break down the terms injured workers often hear so they can have a clearer understanding of what exactly their doctors are talking about.

Paralysis – “Paralysis is a loss or impairment of motor function in one or more muscle groups as a result of a lesion of the neuromuscular mechanism. When applied to motor function, paralysis is the loss of voluntary movement, precluding the use of muscles, tendons, or joints that normally control body movements. Paralysis is a sign of an underlying condition such as paraplegia or shutterstock_284183555quadriplegia.” (Source: http://www.mdguidelines.com/)

Parallegia – impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities(legs)

Spinal cord injuries resulting in paraplegia are known as either “complete” or “incomplete.”

For a “complete” injury, no level of feeling or function exists for the patient below the point of injury. An “incomplete” injury results in the patient retaining some level or feeling or function below the point of injury.  (Source: http://www.news-medical.net/)

Quadriplegia – Paralysis of the lower and upper extremities (arms and legs), also referred to as Tetraplegia

Monoplegia – Paralysis of a single limb, muscle, or muscle group

Testing for Paraplegia

(Source: http://www.thirdage.com/)

CT scan – a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body, in this case the head or spine

MRI scan – a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the head and spine

Myelography – a type of x-ray that uses an injection of a contrast medium to view the spinal cord

Blood tests – (including complete blood count, CBC)

Evoked potential nerve test – a test to evaluate the nerve’s pathways

Lumbar puncture  a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid is taken from the lower back

If you or someone in your family is dealing with a spinal injury as the result of a work place accident or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.