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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Paralysis is not defined strictly in medical terms, but there are many health and wellness issues specific to people with mobility related disabilities. This portion of the PRC Web site deals with a wide range of health-related issues, from the many conditions that can cause paralysis, to some of the health related issues brought on by paralysis itself. 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurological disease affecting 30,000 Americans with about 5,000 new cases occurring in the United States each year.

Brachial plexus injury Caused by excessive stretching, tearing, or other trauma to a network of nerves from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand.

Brain injury The brain serves as the control center for all of the body's functions including conscious activities (walking and talking) and unconscious ones (breathing, heart rate, etc.).

Cerebral Palsy Refers to a group of conditions that affect control of movement and posture.

Friedrich’s Ataxia Friedreich’s ataxia is an inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (ghee-yan bah-ray) A disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

Multiple Sclerosis MS is a disorder of the brain and spinal cord involving decreased nerve function associated with scar formation on the covering of nerve cells.

Muscular Dystrophy MD refers to the group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.

Post-Polio Syndrome Poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis) has been eradicated from nearly every country in the world since the approval for use of the Salk (1955) and Sabin (1962) vaccines.

Spina Bifida A type of neural tube defect (NTD). The term means cleft spine, or incomplete closure in the spinal column.

Spinal Cord Injury Involves damage to the nerves within the spinal canal; most SCIs are caused by trauma to the vertebral column, thereby affecting the spinal cord's ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the body's systems that control sensory, motor and autonomic function below the level of injury.

Stroke Occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells.

Syringomyelia/Tethered cord The clinical symptoms for syringomyelia and tethered spinal cord are the same and can include progressive deterioration of the spinal cord, progressive loss of sensation or strength, profuse sweating, spasticity, pain and autonomic dysreflexia (AD).

Transverse Myelitis TM is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across one segment of the spinal cord.

Secondary Conditions

Basic Conditions

Find out about the resources available on the various aspects of paralysis that are common to many conditions.

Autonomic Dysreflexia 
A potentially dangerous reaction that can occur as a result of an irritation or infection in spinal cord injuries at T6 or higher.

Bladder Management 
Information on managing either a spastic or flaccid bladder resulting from paralysis.

Bowel Care 
Information for healthy bowel care.

Found two or three times more often among people who are paralyzed than among the nondisabled – it is common but not normal.

Offers suggestions on methods to treat and manage chronic pain related to spinal cord injury or disease.

Respiratory Health 
Information especially for people who use vents.

Sexual Health 
Information on sexual function and fertility.

Skin Care 
How to keep skin healthy and avoid pressure wounds.

The different types and causes of spasticity.

Upper Extremity Care 
With knowledge, the right equipment, exercise and care you can preserve arms and shoulders for the long-term, and avoid pain.

  • Email our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Call our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Call our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Newly paralyzed or spinal cord injured? Start here.
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Paralysis Resource Guide

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship areencouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.