Cynthia's accident seems to have caused damage to her spinal cord (SC). The symptoms indicate that the injury was in the region of the cord (SC) between T1 and L4. This is suggested by her paraplegia, that is, paralysis of the lower limbs, only. Paralysis of both lower limbs is a common result of lower spinal cord injury. Often, the paralysis is temporary, caused by spinal shock which results in malfunction of all reflex activities below (distal to) the site of the injury. Other symptoms include depression of both bowel and bladder reflexes . Both skeletal and visceral muscles below the injury will lose sensitivity and be paralyzed .
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The patient may be at risk for bed sores because he/she will not be able to feel pressure sensations that inform one of the need to change position in bed. Furthermore, in this case, the patient is unable to move/turn himself/herself. If the patient stays in one position for too long, blood supply to the tissue under pressure will decrease. The fact that the patient will be somewhat hypotensive , secondary to his spinal cord injury, makes it imperative that the patient be turned at regular intervals to obviate pressure cell damage, cell necrosis and ulceration /bed sores. The loss of the urinary reflex will cause urine to accumulate in the bladder. This stagnation of urinary flow (without voiding) facilitates the multiplication of microbes and usually promotes bladder infections. For a brief period after the injury, spasmodic contractions of the limb muscles may occur. However, if normal muscular function does not return within two days the paralysis will most likely be permanent. The paralysis in this case is most likely the result of damage to ventral roots and/or ventral horn neurons. The loss of sensitivity is related to damage of dorsal roots. These injuries are common sports injuries. Diagnostic tests include reflex testing, and imaging --CT scan, MRI scans and PET scans, and myelography with contrast medium. Treatment modalities usually include steroid injections, physical therapy and occupational therapy.