Woman sitting in wheelchair on a park pathway surrounded by trees.

Paraplegia vs. Quadriplegia: Understanding The Difference

What Causes Paralysis?

According to the latest data reported by The U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are nearly 5.4 million people in the U.S. living with paralysis. Spinal cord injuries are the second leading cause of paralysis (behind strokes), affecting 27.3% of those with paralysis — and the most common cause of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents.

There are two types of paralysis — paraplegia and quadriplegia. Read on to learn the facts about each.

What is Paraplegia?

Paraplegia is the paralyzation of the lower half of the body. People with paraplegia have problems with mobility and often require the use of a wheelchair. While there are treatments and therapies available to manage symptoms, many people affected with paraplegia have life-long challenges.

Symptoms of Paraplegia

The most common symptoms of paraplegia are:

  • Loss of feeling or sensations in the lower body
  • Mobility impairment
  • Weight gain
  • Episodes of pain in the lower body
  • Chronic pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Bedsores, skin problems

Although rare, people with paraplegia may also experience autonomic dysreflexia. This abnormal response occurs when the body is experiencing pain or discomfort below the spinal cord injury level. Responses may include:

  • Heart rate changes
  • Excessive sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Skin color changes, such as paleness, redness, or bluish-gray skin

What Is Quadriplegia?

Quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia) is paralyzation from the neck down. Quadriplegia is one of the most disabling forms of paralysis. People with quadriplegia have little to no control over their bodies' function and often depend on the life-long care of others.

Symptoms of Quadriplegia

The most common symptoms of quadriplegia are:

  • Numbness/loss of feeling in the arms and legs
  • Paralysis of the arms, legs, and torso muscles
  • Respiratory issues and difficulty breathing (some quadriplegics require the use of assisted breathing devices)
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunctions
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Bedsores

Paralyzation and Mental Health

People with paraplegia or quadriplegia often suffer from depression due to social challenges, such as:

  • Social isolation
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Lack of independence

Sustained a Spinal Cord Injury? Contact Us for Help.

Big cases require big resources. Being involved in an accident that causes a spinal cord injury is scary, and when the consequence is paralyzation, it can make it that much more devastating. If you’ve been injured in an accident due to another’s negligence, we are here to help protect your rights. Our team of experienced attorneys will work hard for the maximum compensation you deserve. We have a proven track record of getting top results for our clients. We take on the most challenging cases and are here to help you.

Contact Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC at (502) 242-8872 to learn how we may assist you.

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