Paraplegia can affect an individual physically

Paraplegia can affect an individual physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally. According to the level and type of injury, the physical effects can vary. Some of these physical effects can include loss of sensation below the site of injury, phantom sensations, bladder dysfunctions, bowel dysfunctions, sexual dysfunctions, spasticity, and neurogenic pain. ( Spasticity is best defined as “continuous resistance to stretching by a muscle to due abnormally increased tension” (Spasticity). Neurogenic pain can be best defined as pain that is caused by the nervous system. This pain can be neuropathic or central; due to nerve damage or from the lesion of the central nervous system. (Garcia) Also, due to the immobility an individual may have, pressure sores and weakening of the bones and muscles must be considered. Some other secondary physical impairments may include autonomic dysreflexia, respiratory complications, temperature regulations, heterotopic ossification, and postural hypotension. (Porter, 2018)
Most cognitive impairments have been researched in hereditary spastic paraplegia specifically. In one study, researchers were looking at several domains; dementia, intellectual disability, language disorders, information processing speed, attention deficit, and executive impairment. It was concluded that the only significant cognitive impairment was seen in attention deficit and executive impairment. In addition, there were also some signs of social cognition impairment. (Chamard, et al., 2016)
Due to the impact that the physical effects may have on an individual, this can in themselves lead to cause the social and emotional affects one may experience. Individuals who acquire this injury suddenly, with an abrupt change to their lifestyle, may have more of a negative impact on their social life. This is due to the fact that the individual now has to adapt to their new sudden lifestyle changes. Some of these changes that can affect their social life are wheelchair adaptation, social stigmas, and social interactions. If one struggles with this adaptation, this may lead to their emotional affects. The social stigmas in themselves, present an emotional barrier one must try to overcome. Also, the way one acquired the injury can itself pose a negative impact on the patient’s emotional health.
This type of injury can also have an effect on an individual’s independence in their everyday life. This can be seen in areas such as work or school, community involvement, and leisure participation. As far as work and school, the wheelchair accessibility (or lack thereof) can have a severe negative impact on one’s independence. Also, depending on the job, the individual may no longer meet the physical requirements that the job holds. As for community involvement and leisure participation, it may be based on the level of education and resources the patient has access to. With the many adaptations available in the community and leisure activities, it is possible for individuals to continue to reintegrate into the community successfully. However, if not educated well enough or given enough resources, this may be the most difficult aspect of the patient’s treatment.
Although paraplegia itself is a life-long condition once acquired, its effects can be reduced or maintained. The physical effects can be maintained and occurrence of other secondary physical effects can be reduced. In specific cases, like the ones stated above, some cognitive effects may also be life-long. As for the emotional/social effects, they can only limit the client for a portion of time if treated correctly.