Quadriplegia can affect every part of a person’s life, especially when it happens suddenly or unexpectedly. Injuries or conditions that cause quadriplegia are often felt not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and socially.
A traumatic injury to the head, neck, or spine can cause total paralysis in the limbs and torso, as can some degenerative conditions. This type of paralysis, occurring in both legs and arms plus the torso, is called quadriplegia. Impacting not only the physical aspects but mentally, emotionally, and socially, as well.
Spinal cord injuries are one of the most common causes of quadriplegia in the United States. These injuries can occur because of car accidents, falls, and other types of accidents that may not be the fault of the person they injure. Sometimes accidents occur due to the negligence of a person, business, or medical care provider. When injuries occur as the result of someone’s negligence, it may justify legal action against the negligent party.
It is essential to speak to an experienced attorney if you decide to take legal action. An attorney experienced in personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuits can answer your questions and help you navigate the litigation process. Call the Justice Lawyers today to see if you have a claim.
When a person experiences complete paralysis in all four limbs and torso, it is called quadriplegia. Although quadriplegia is paralysis in the arms and legs, it does not mean the limbs have been damaged. Quadriplegia also is known as tetraplegia occurs as the result of problems in the brain and spine. The brain and spinal cord work together to send, receive, and process signals; the spinal cord sends signals to and from the brain and the brain processes and interprets those signals. If these areas get damaged, it can prevent those processes from working properly. Quadriplegia can occur as a result of those damages.
Quadriplegia causes a loss of sensation and control in the limbs, and it can dramatically change a person’s life. Much research continues to be done in this area, but there is still a lot that scientists and medical providers don’t understand about these injuries. However, there is optimism that scientists could one day repair these types of injuries and researchers continue working towards advancements that could help improve the prognosis of those with quadriplegia.
Quadriplegia can result from many different causes, including medical conditions, infections, and spinal cord injury, among others. The majority of cases of quadriplegia occur because of spinal cord injuries. Many spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis in all four limbs occur as a result of injury high in the spinal cord.
Damage to vertebrae, ligaments, or disks in the spinal column or the spinal cord itself can result in acute spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord—a long, thin, tubular structure made up of nerves and tissues—extends from the brain stem down the back. An injury that causes quadriplegia usually occurs in the cervical spine, which is located in the neck.
Traumatic spinal cord injuries might result from a sudden blow to the spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes, or compresses one or more vertebrae. Types of traumatic injury that can damage the spinal cord include car accidents, falls, gunshot and knife wounds. An additional injury might result from bleeding, inflammation, swelling, and fluid accumulation following the initial injury.
Non-traumatic events may also cause spinal cord injuries, including arthritis, cancer, inflammation, infections, or degeneration of the spinal disks.
The most common causes of spinal cord injury, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Acts of violence
- Sports and recreation injuries
When a person loses all sensory and motor function in their limbs below a spinal cord injury, their injury is called “complete.”
Signs and symptoms of paralysis will vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. Quadriplegia symptoms can include:
- Loss of movement
- Loss or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Changes in sexual function
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation in the spinal cord
- Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from the lungs
A person with quadriplegia is also at increased risk for pressure sores due to limited mobility and loss of feeling in the limbs. The condition also puts people at increased risk for deep vein thrombosis, a dangerous blood clot that forms in one of the limbs (usually in the leg) that can then break off and travel to the heart or lungs, causing a heart attack or pulmonary embolism.
People with quadriplegia may need to undergo physical therapy to manage their symptoms. It’s also important to seek medical advice from a qualified doctor or medical care provider after any traumatic injury to the head or spine.
Difference between Quadriplegia and Quadriparesis
When a person loses function in their limbs due to a traumatic injury or other cause, they could experience either quadriplegia or quadriparesis. The critical difference is how much function they have lost in their limbs.
In quadriparesis, a person will experience weakness in all four limbs, which may be temporary or permanent, but they will still be able to move and feel their limbs to some degree. This is different than quadriplegia; people with quadriplegia are unable to move any of their limbs.
The symptoms of the quadriparesis will vary from person to person, but typically include weakness in all four limbs and difficulty controlling the muscles in those limbs. Some other symptoms might consist of limp muscles, unusual stiffness or tightness in the muscles, lack of motor control, inability to walk, loss of bladder control, and suppressed reflexes.
Infections like polio, neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy, and damage to the nervous system can all cause quadriparesis. Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and other conditions can also cause paralysis. Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease of the central nervous system and can lead to certain degrees of paralysis. Similarly, cerebral palsy is the abnormal development or damage of parts of the brain that affect movement, balance, and posture, and can also result in paralysis.