The ability to move around from one place to another and engage in physical activities is something that all of us enjoy. Unfortunately, all that can end with paralysis. A 2009 study conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation revealed that nearly 1 in 50 people live with paralysis or 5.6 million people. Stroke was the leading cause of paralysis at 29 percent, followed by spinal cord injury at 23 percent.

According to the website of Fields Disability, the economic consequences of paralysis are often devastating. Being unable to continue life as you know it forces paralysis victims to adapt, and they often need help to do it. Paralysis happens when the nerve cells or neurons that control muscle movement becomes damaged. As a result, the muscles cannot move voluntarily causing the person to be paralyzed. There are four major causes of paralysis and they are:


Stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is disturbed. Like any other organ, the brain requires constant flow of blood and if that supply is restricted or stopped, the brain cells will begin to die causing brain damage. According to the study mentioned above, stroke is the leading cause of paralysis.

Head Injury

A severe head injury can tear or bruise the surface of the brain as it bumps the skull causing damage in the blood vessels and nerves. When the part of the brain that controls specific muscles is damaged during a severe head injury, paralysis occurs. Damage to the left side of the brain can paralyze the right side of the body and vice versa.

Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system. It is a thick bundle of nerves that runs from the brain to the neck and spine encased in a canal of vertebrae. It transmits signals to and from the brain and body. Any injuries in the neck or spine can cause damage to the spinal cord. As a result, the brain loses its ability to transmit signals to the various muscles resulting to paralysis.

The location of the spinal injury can have a significant effect on the severity and extent of paralysis. The higher the injury, the worse the paralysis will be. Spinal cord injury is the second leading cause of paralysis at 23 percent.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is caused by damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord by the immune system. It attacks the myelin fibers of the spinal cord, causing disruption in sending messages to and from the brain. Multiple sclerosis causes 17 percent of all paralysis.