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Jones Wilson, LLP
Call: 702-405-6000
Toll Free: 866-299-0558

What is the difference between paraplegia and quadriplegia?

According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, 23 percent of paralysis victims suffered accidents in which their spinal cords were injured. Although a spinal injury doesn’t necessarily guarantee paralysis, any direct damage to the spinal cord can potentially cause some form of paralysis.

Since your spinal cord is basically the communication center for your brain to communicate with your body, when it gets damaged, certain neurological messages which are sent to control parts of your body become lost or incapable of being sent. Likewise, messages from the body back to the brain cannot “leap the gap” of a damaged spinal cord. Depending on where the damage occurs, this can lead to different forms of paralysis.

Paralytic Forms of Spinal Cord Injuries

Paralysis from spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are generally classified under one of two categories: paraplegia and quadriplegia. Paraplegia and quadriplegia are both commonly referred to as paralysis. However, they are each separate forms of paralysis, characterized by the location of spinal injury. Depending upon where the initial injury occurred, symptoms of paraplegics and quadriplegics can widely differ.

Paraplegia

Paraplegics suffer from what is known as “partial” or “incomplete” paralysis, which only affects two limbs (generally the legs). This type of paralysis results from an injury to the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions of the spinal cord (the entirety of the spine starting below the neck). Paraplegics are usually hospitalized for up to five months for extensive rehabilitation and therapy. Depending on the extant of the injury (in cases of minor bruising or swelling), some paraplegics may regain feeling and mobility.

Quadriplegia

Quadriplegics, on the other hand suffer from partial to “complete” paralysis, which can affect all four limbs (arms and legs, including hips). This type of paralysis results when damage occurs to the regions of the spine known as C-1 through C-4 (starting where the skull meets the spine and continuing down the neck). This damage causes the victim to lose both sensory and motor functions, completely disrupting sensation and control. Quadriplegics usually need at least six to eight months of extensive rehabilitation before they can be discharged from the hospital, and then continue treatment and therapy on their own.

Temporary paralysis

Not all spinal cord injuries are severe. In some cases, swelling can cause a temporary communication block from the brain to the nerves. As the swelling decreases, the messages slowly get through causing temporary paralysis.

SCI Help: Because All Types of Paralytic Injuries Deserve Support

When you first experience a spinal cord trauma, it’s extremely difficult to determine the severity of the injury. Sometimes a simple bruise can make your legs go numb as if you’re paralyzed, while other injuries can seem minor but then develop serious complications.

No matter the cause, or the initial symptoms that result, if you injure your back or neck, or feel numbness, uncontrollable muscle spasms, or signs of paralysis, you need to seek medical help immediately. Hesitating could cause the injury to worsen.

After you’ve been fully examined and diagnosed by a doctor, your next plan of action should be to contact an experienced spine injury attorney. Although your body may be paralyzed, there is no reason for you to let the insurance companies take advantage of you. Allow us to have your back and fight for the financial security and the long-term treatment you need.

Don’t allow an accidental mishap to destroy your financial independence or affect your mental state. Call us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you!