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When it comes to paralysis, "complete" and "incomplete" are key words to know

Every spinal cord injury is different. Some affected persons suffer from a total loss of both motor function and the sensory system below the site of the injury. That's called complete paralysis. Others, however, can feel and move to some extent below the site where the injury occurred. They have incomplete paralysis.

Whether someone has complete or incomplete paralysis depends mainly on the extent to which the spinal cord has been damaged.

Think of it this way: Imagine that there's a garden hose within the spine. Through it flows information from the brain into the body and vice versa.

With complete paralysis, it is as if something presses on the garden hose with full force. The flow of information is completely interrupted. Accordingly, the affected person can neither move nor feel anything below the site of the injury.

In the case of incomplete paralysis, on the other hand, the hose is pressed down "only" a certain extent. So the spinal cord is not completely destroyed – there are injured structures through which information can continue to flow. The affected person can then perhaps move his or her legs a bit, or feel heat or cold. And there's a better potential for rehabilitation. Sometimes, however, an incomplete paralysis can be so severe that there is hardly any difference from a complete paralysis.

Across those two major categories of injury, there are innumerable combinations and special cases that result in different effects and limitations for the life of each individual concerned. But your participation in the Wings for Life World Run gives hope to all of them. 



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