PARALYSIS by Sharifah Yasmin, Izzati Wahab and Eishah Adawiyah :)
Paralysis is most commonly defined by a damaged nervous system, especially concerning the spinal cord. Paralysis is also known as Hemiplegia, Palsy, Paraplegia or Quadriplegia. However, Paraplegia and Quadriplegia are different in several different ways.
While some people with paraplegia can walk to a degree, many are dependent on wheelchairs or other supportive measures. Thus, impotence and urinary incontinence are very common in those affected. Many use catheters and/or a bowel management program to address these problems. With successful bladder and bowel management, paraplegics can prevent virtually all accidental urinary or bowel discharges.
Quadriplegics on the other hand suffer from impairment to the limbs and partially in the torso. This can mean a loss or impairment in controlling bowel and bladder, sexual function, digestion, breathing, and other autonomic functions. Secondarily, because of their depressed functioning and immobility, quadriplegics are often more vulnerable to pressure sores, osteoporosis and fractures, respiratory complications and infections.
Most paralysis is due to strokes, mental or trauma or injuries such as spinal cord injury or a broken neck. Other causes of paralysis include nerve diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autoimmune diseases such as Guillain-Barre syndrome or Bell's palsy, which affects facial muscles. There are also forms of periodic paralysis, such as sleep paralysis, which are caused by other factors that are currently under research.
According to a study initiated by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, there are nearly 1 in 50 people living with paralysis -- approximately 6 million people. That's the same number of people as the combined populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
It means that we all probably has ties to someone -- a brother, sister, friend, neighbor, or colleague -- living with this disease. Isn’t that just devastating? More research and development is focusing on human paralysis to counter these high statistics of people affected by paralysis.
I’m sure that most of you are not aware that many species of animals use paralyzing toxins in order to capture prey, evade predation, or both. One famous example is the tetrodotoxin of Takifugu rubripes, the famously lethal pufferfish of Japanese fugu. This toxin works by binding to nerve cells, preventing the cells' proper function.
A minimal dose of this toxin results in temporary paralysis. This toxin is also present in many other species ranging from toads to nemerteans. Although it is poisonous and potentially harmful to humans, it is considered a delicacy in many Eastern countries. Customers consume it after careful preparation by a qualified chef, who removes the lethal toxin from the fish.
Society has used a variety of terms to label people with paralysis over the years. The general public will use the term they perceive to best describe how they view individuals who live with paralysis, which is where the term ‘disabled’ or handicapped person’ is used.
However, someone who is living with paralysis and is a wheelchair user may be offended and distinguish themselves in a different manner such as “mobility impaired” or as a “wheelchair user”. This gives them the air of independence and self-respect, as it implies that they are capable of carrying out their daily activities without much hassle.
All in all, the usage of term to call people with paralysis depends on one’s perception of the condition. As citizens with moral obligations towards each other, we should refer to them respectfully; as they wish to be referred to.
After all, paralyzed people deserve to be treated equally as any other person, as most of them do not suffer from mental retardation nor mental disturbance in any way. They have the same rights as other normal members of society. Should we encounter anyone with paralysis, we should treat them as respectfully as we want to be treated! :)