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What Is the Difference Between Quadriplegia and Paraplegia?

While both quadriplegia and paraplegia are a type of paralysis that occurs as a result of an injury sustained by the spinal cord, they present entirely different issues to the injured person. The difference between paraplegia and quadriplegia is what portion of the body is affected by the paralysis. Paraplegia is a type of paralysis that affects a patient’s function or sensation in the lower extremities. Quadriplegia is a type of paralysis that affects both a patient’s function and sensation in the arms and legs. Depending on the nerves that are affected, both types of spinal cord injuries can be classified as complete or incomplete.

More About Paraplegia

In addition to affecting the lower extremities, paraplegia also has a tendency to affect a patient’s abdominal muscles, making it difficult to move and stretch that area. This makes it substantially more difficult for one to recover from their injuries due to the lack of core strength. Patients who experience a loss of control in the abdominal muscles might also experience bowel and bladder dysfunction as well as impairment of sexual function. Other symptoms of paraplegia include chronic pain, low blood pressure, and the inability to control body temperature.

Patients who sustain spinal cord injuries at or below their thoracic level can become paraplegic.

More About Quadriplegia

Unlike paraplegia, which only affects the lower extremities, quadriplegia affects the arms and legs. This type of injury occurs when a patient sustains a severe injury to the cervical spinal cord. Generally, those who suffer from this condition have no control of their limbs and torso and, in cases where the injury to the spinal cord is higher up, patients who have quadriplegia might even lose control of their breathing and require a ventilator for the rest of their lives. Moreover, patients with this condition will typically need full-time care to assist them with their day-to-day activities and necessities.

While all cases of quadriplegia are catastrophic and debilitating, each spinal cord injury is different and unique.

Causes of Both Paraplegia and Quadriplegia

The same issues can cause both paraplegia and quadriplegia. Some of the primary causes include:

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Stroke

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Blood clots

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Infections of the spinal cord

Challenges the Patient May Experience

Due to the limited mobility of the lower body, individuals with paraplegia will still remain in charge of their neurological functions. In most cases, people who suffer from paraplegia can still live independently with assistance from leg braces or wheelchairs. Paraplegia patients will, however, suffer from numerous other difficulties such as:

  • Chronic pain

  • High blood pressure

  • Reduced bladder/bowel function

  • Sexual dysfunction

Quadriplegia is similar, but to an elevated degree. It affects all elements of a patient’s life because of their reduced independence. An individual with quadriplegia will also deal with:

  • Reduced or total absence of their arm/hand function

  • Problems with swallowing or breathing

  • Difficulty performing daily tasks without assistance

Working with a Professional Attorney for Your Injury Case

If you or a loved one sustained a spinal cord injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you need a skilled catastrophic injury attorney on your side to help you pursue the fair and just compensation you deserve. At Pratt Clay, LLC, our Atlanta spinal cord injury team is here to provide the aggressive legal advocacy you need to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.

Get started on your case today and contact us at (404) 998-5258 to schedule your free initial case evaluation.