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How Common is Paraplegia with No Severe Trauma?

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    How Common is Paraplegia with No Severe Trauma?

    My step son is 42. Paraplegic as of 1 month ago. He did not experience any severe trauma of the type I would typically associate with paralysis. He injured his back lifting a table at work. May have fallen one time after that. Was also dealing with edema (was probably some edema around spine) and one day tried to get out of bed and slid to the floor and hasn't been able to feel his legs since. Scan shows a compression fracture at T7 with mild retropulsion.

    I know there are many things (tumors etc.) other than severe trauma that can cause paralysis, but since that isn't the case here I continue to wonder if this is exceptionally rare, or more common than I might think?

    I have several questions and since they are distinct am going to put each into separate threads, hopefully it'll be OK if I have several going.

    Thank You
    Last edited by MineGoesTo11; 28 Mar 2017, 11:32 PM.

    It is many different rare disorders of different levels, syndromes and severity. It seems that use of most drugs for spinal cord injury is off label.

    Normally it takes considerable violence to break the spine, but if someone has osteoporosis then it might not take much at all.


      The cause of SCI from Motor vehicle accidents of some type and falls are tied at the top 2 causes.

      Falls used to not even be close. Unless a major fall from several feet occur in spine with chronic chronic changes such as degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, ruptured discs.
      The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


        I'm sorry to hear about your son.
        An acute spine compression fracture can cause a lot of edema and pressure on the spinal cord.

        Re: "Scan shows a compression fracture at T7 with mild retropulsion."
        Did he have a CT scan or a MRI scan? The CT would have shown the fracture and bone retropulsion. The MRI would have showed this as well but would also have shown more of the effect on the soft tissue of the spinal cord.

        Does your step-son have healthcare insurance? Is he eligible for Workers Compensation from lifting the table and hurting his back? Is he receiving care at a rehabilitation facility?

        If he has payed into social security, he should start reviewing the process for completing their disability application and the correct wording needed to identify his cause of disability as a SCI rather than a back injury. He'll need copies of his medical records.


          I hope yr son will improve.

          This might be worth bringing to the attention of your doctors-the condition known as Fibrocartilagineous Embolism

          I developed a mysterious serious spinal injury while involved in a minor lifting strain. However the real damage was done 6 weeks earlier in a low level but severe fall. Whiplash is commonly associated with the upper spine-cervical area arising from a car crash, However a low level fall or even over exertion in gynamastics can cause a form of lower spine whiplash (sudden straightening of the spine leading to sudden disc compression and even rupture). Contrary to popular opinion, severe injury can occur from falls from the standing position, a key factor being the nature of the surface impacted, grass is one thing, concrete is very different of course.

          The disc may be damaged from an earlier condition, injury, event of some kind and with a later compression event, it ruptures and the soft mucus interior of the disc is compressed back up into the vessel that supply the spine blocking the blood flow leading to paralysis. This is associated with people who have disc abnormalities known as schmorl nodes which are thought to be caused by hard physical work at a young age. If the event is associated with twisting of the spine, the nodes have a tendency to rupture more easily.

          A key investigation is to establish if Schmorl nodes exist on any of his discs. This may affect up to 50000 people annually. Diagnosis is difficult but can be done and there is a protocol for doing it and the reference is given below.

          There is every chance you son could improve. I was written off 8 years ago. I lead a fairly active life now and walk not perfectly and am fully involved in life again.

          Bio engineer

          This recent scientific paper is little known but contains important information on the correct diagnosis of the condition. Also very up to date is :
          Mahmoud AbdelRazek, MD
          Service Chief Resident of Neurology
          State University of NY at Buffalo

          Presentation and Medical Management of Fibrocartilaginous Embolism in the Emergency Department

          . Author links open the author workspace.Derick D.JonesMD, MBA∗. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspace. Author links open the author workspace.Robert E.WatsonMD, PhD†. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspace. Author links open the author workspace.Heather A.HeatonMD∗. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspace
          Opens the author workspace∗Department of Emergency Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota