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What is paralysis?

Paralysis is the result of an abnormality that occurs somewhere along the neurological path that sends signals from your brain to your muscles and vice versa. Because of the disruption of the neurological signals, you experience either a partial or complete loss of control over your muscles. According to the Cleveland Clinic, paralysis affects approximately 6 million people in the United States, including New York. 

Paralysis can result from medical conditions. Some of these, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, may be present from birth, while others may develop over time, such as multiple sclerosis. However, traumatic injury can also cause paralysis. Among the most common causes are injuries to the head that result in brain damage. 

It is not only the motor muscles of the body that paralysis can affect. The involuntary muscles that control autonomous bodily functions also rely on signals from the brain in order to perform properly. Therefore, people with paralysis often lose control of their bowel and bladder or experience problems with heart rate, blood flow and breathing. 

There are other conditions that can result from paralysis, some of them quite serious. Prolonged immobilization of the legs can cause blood clots to form. These can break off and travel to the lungs where they can disrupt breathing and potentially cause death. People with paralysis often spend most of their time in wheelchairs, which can put pressure on certain areas of the body. As a result, the skin in these areas may receive reduced blood flow and become susceptible to tearing. This can cause pressure ulcers, more commonly known as bedsores. 

In some cases, the damage that causes paralysis is reversible, which means that the paralysis may be temporary. More often, however, paralysis is permanent. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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