What does this mean?
When a person suffers a spinal cord injury, information travelling along the spinal nerves below the level of injury will be either completely or partially cut off from the brain, resulting in Quadriplegia (Tetraplegia) or Paraplegia.
The body will still be trying to send messages from below the level of injury to the brain known as sensory messages, and the brain will still be trying to send messages downwards to the muscles in the body, known as motor messages.
These messages however, will be blocked by the damage in the spinal cord at the level of injury. Nerves joining the spinal cord above the level of injury will be unaffected and continue to work as normal.
Quadriplegia / Tetraplegia: is when a person has a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebra, paralysis usually affects the cervical spinal nerves resulting in paralysis of all four limbs. In addition to the arms and legs being paralysed, the abdominal and chest muscles will also be affected resulting in weakened breathing and the inability to properly cough and clear the chest. People with this type of paralysis are referred to as Quadriplegic or Tetraplegic.
Paraplegia: is when the level of spinal cord injury occurs below the first thoracic spinal nerve. The degree at which the person is paralysed can vary from the impairment of leg movement, to complete paralysis of the legs and abdomen up to the nipple line. Paraplegics have full use of their arms and hands.