What is Paraplegia?

Paraplegia is an impairment in motor 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, quadriplegia is the proper terminology. If only one limb is affected the correct term is monoplegia.

While some people with paraplegia can walk to a degree, many are dependent on wheelchairs or other supportive measures. Impotence and various degrees of urinary and fecal incontinence are very common in those affected.

Many use catheters or a bowel management program (often involving suppositories, enemas, or digital stimulation of the bowels) to address these problems.

With successful bladder and bowel management, paraplegics can prevent virtually all accidental urinary or bowel discharges.


  • Back-Up Trust
  • Buoniconti Fund
  • Canadian Paraplegic Association
  • CareCure Community
  • Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
  • Miami Project
  • ThreeSixtyFive Foundation
  • Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
  • Spinal Cord Injury Peer Support
  • Spinal Cord Injury Support
  • Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation

Further Reading

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Paraplegia" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014

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