When an injury occurs to the spinal cord, the effects can be devastating. The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system with the brain, and relays information to the peripheral nervous system; the spinal cord can be divided into five segments: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal.
The ]]>Mayo Clinic]]> explains that a patient can have a complete injury, where she experiences a total loss of sensation and motor ability, or an incomplete injury, where the patient still has some feeling or mobility. The type of paralysis the patient has also depends on which areas of the body are affected, and where in the spinal cord the injury occurred. A patient diagnosed with tetraplegia or quadriplegia has problems with her arms, legs, trunk and pelvic organs, and has an injury above the first thoracic spinal nerve. A patient with paraplegia has an injury below the first thoracic spinal nerve, and exhibits problems with her trunk, legs and pelvic organs, though all three of these anatomical parts may not be affected. As a result, the patient has problems moving on her own, feeling sensations (pain, temperature, pressure) in the affected limbs, and can also have problems with bladder and bowel controls.