Paralysis is an inability to move one or more parts of your body. It arises from a disruption of the neurological relay system that involves your peripheral nerves, brain and spinal cord. A defect that occurs at any of these points can cause paralysis.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are many possible causes of paralysis, such as a catastrophic injury to your central nervous system. Because there are many different causes, there are also many different forms that paralysis can take.
Temporary versus permanent
Damage to the nervous system is often irreversible, which can cause permanent paralysis. An example is if your spinal cord becomes severed. The tissues of the spinal cord do not regenerate, so the damage is permanent.
However, sometimes the disruption is due to another structure pressing on the nerve tissue due to swelling or displacement. Once the swelling goes down or the other structure goes back to its rightful place, perhaps with the help of a surgeon, nerve function may resume and the paralysis may resolve.
Complete versus partial
Complete paralysis occurs when no nerve signals can reach the affected body part at all. However, sometimes part of the signal can get through, leaving you with some limited control of the affected body part. This is an example of partial paralysis which, to differentiate it from complete paralysis, is also sometimes called paresis.
Generalized versus localized
Generalized paralysis affects a large area of your body, perhaps both legs, the arm and leg on one side or all four extremities. Localized paralysis, on the other hand, affects a specific body part, such as the vocal cords or the face.