A paraplegic is someone whose lower body, including both legs, is completely paralyzed. This is often times brought on by injuries to the spinal cord, but in some cases degenerative diseases may afflict its victims with paraplegia.

Life is much more difficult for a paraplegic than a fully mobile person. In the past, it was quite hard to find occupations which these individuals were able to perform with minimal physical exertion. However, with the invention of the internet many paraplegics now have opportunities that were previously unavailable to them. The ability to work from home, or cyber-commute, can greatly reduce the ardous task which transportation can sometimes be for a person void of full mobility. Organizations geared towards paraplegics now have websites which offer news, financial information, and medical breaththroughs.

Famous paraplegic: Larry Flynt

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I have no idea what it would be like to be a paraplegic. Everyday I wake up and flop out of bed without giving a single thought to my marvelously mobile self. Once I woke up and I couldn't hear out of my left ear. Everything changed then--school was different, work was different, nothing was the same. That is probaly the closest I will ever come to feeling the despair experienced daily by paraplegics. (And it cleared up within two days...poor me...)

Anyone who can overcome such a tremondous obstacle should be greatly applauded. I have a large amount of respect for individuals who can perservere despite great physical disabilities. I'm glad this nodeshell poped up to give me a dose of perspective...

Disability can be a very relative concept, and Society often bestows its pity upon those who need and want it least. Words like paraplegic lend themselves to broad generalisation by the able-bodied, who uncomfortably avert their eyes or rant about the wastefulness of handicap parking1 spaces, but it turns out that there are numerous levels of function among those who suffer from spinal cord injuries. For instance, the dictionary2 defines quadriplegia as "Complete paralysis of the body from the neck down" (as opposed to quarterplegia, the inverse, which I define as complete paralysis from the neck up), but did you know that there are people classified as quadriplegics who can walk? There are, and it's all down to the vagaries of medical terminology.
        The point here is that people with disabilities, like everyone else, are individuals. Some, of course, welcome the pity they receive; but many more want a chance to lead a normal life and to be accepted for what they can do.
        I might not have come to realise all this, except I fell in love with a very bright, positive, energetic woman who only happens to be confined to a wheelchair.3 What she goes through just to get in and out of the supermarket is a real eye-opener, but I think she pretty well sums things up when she says, "I'm not disabled; I'm inconvenienced."
1I've actually heard people say, "Well if they can't function in society, they should just stay home. Why should I walk all the way across the parking lot just so some gimp can be close to the front door?" Um... because you can? Duh.

2The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

3My biggest worry is how on earth I'm ever going to keep up with her.

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