The Life Altering Effects of Paralysis

Medical experts focus on three major points in the first few hours after any major spinal injury that could lead to paralysis: preserving the victim’s life, confining the effects of the injury and taking whatever steps necessary to augment the survivor’s long-term prognosis for healing. But what about the life-altering effects of paralysis that set in after the first few hours? Doctors must work quickly and can only do so much when struggling to save someone’s life.

Paralysis is the total loss of function of one or many muscle groups but its impact moves far beyond the physical. The psychological, financial and lifestyle changes that come about represent a complete and total metamorphosis to the survivor’s life and the life of their loved ones.

The way in which each individual copes with this transformation varies from person to person and factors such as personality type, age at the of the time of injury and whether the paralysis was caused by a sudden event or long-term degradation of health each play a part. Environmental and social factors such as the reactions of family, friends, coworkers and health care professionals may also help or hinder a paralysis victim’s mental and emotional state.

The reaction to the shock and grief of paralysis can come out as disbelief or denial, unpredictable and uncontrollable emotional outbursts and extreme anger. Other changes such as confusion, restlessness, difficulty in digestion or loss of appetite and disturbed sleep may also be indicators of the emotional stress the newly paralyzed feel.

Paralysis can transform the character of calm, reasonable and even-tempered individuals temporarily or long-term, and lead to ongoing depression and loss of interest in living life without full movement. Maladaptive coping mechanisms such as suicide attempts, aggression, melodrama and excessive use of alcohol or drugs are common reactions to the loss paralysis presents and the injured may require counseling or psychiatric care in addition to their medical treatment.

On a material plane, paralysis generally requires elaborate remodeling to living space of the victim and the purchase adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, handicapped adapted motor vehicles and special electronic, communication and kitchen equipment.

It is abundantly clear that becoming paralyzed leads to staggering expenses that add weight to the heavy burden of adapting to a life of limited movement.

Understanding Paralysis

Paralysis is caused by damage to the spinal cord either from a medical condition such as a tumor or a degenerative disease or an accident that severs the spinal cord and limits the signals from the brain to other areas of the body.


Paraplegia is one type of paralysis affecting the lower areas of the human body. Paraplegics typically have no movement and the torso or the legs and on top of the loss of mobility digestive functions and bladder control are gone.


Quadriplegia may result from damage to the upper spinal cord or the brain and renders the victim incapable of moving their legs, torso, arms and hands. In a small number of instanc