What Is the Difference Between Quadriplegia and Paraplegia?

man in wheelchair traveling through entryway

A complete or partial severing of the spinal cord can cause permanent paralysis. Unfortunately, medical science currently cannot repair damage to the spinal cord.

Depending on where the spinal cord injury occurs, a person may suffer various types of paralysis. Two of the most common forms of paralysis include paraplegia and quadriplegia. The injuries can cause partial paralysis or complete paralysis. Each type of injury comes with unique complications and challenges that injury victims must overcome or adapt to when recovering from the injury and resuming as active and independent a life as possible.

What Are the Differences Between Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Injuries?

The differences between paraplegia and quadriplegia involve the areas of the body that become paralyzed.

  • Paraplegia is partial or complete paralysis of the legs, pelvis, and potentially the lower abdomen caused by injuries to the thoracic (middle and upper back), lumbar (lower back), or sacral (pelvic) regions of the spinal cord.
  • Quadriplegia, also called tetraplegia, is paralysis of all four limbs (legs and arms), the lower half of the body, and the chest. Quadriplegia occurs due to injury to the cervical spine located in the upper back and neck.

What Might Someone Experience with a Paraplegic Injury?

Some of the long-term health complications that may occur with a paraplegic injury include:

  • Limited mobility, including needing a wheelchair or orthopedic devices to assist with walking
  • Chronic pain, including at the site of the spinal cord injury
  • Reduced bladder and bowel function
  • High blood pressure and rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sexual function, sensitivity, and fertility
  • Muscle weakness and loss of muscle tone in the legs
  • Muscle spasticity, which causes muscles to contract suddenly and uncontrollably
  • Weight gain caused by reduced physical activity
  • Impaired psychological well-being
  • Reduced quality of life

What Might Someone Experience with a Quadriplegic Injury?

In addition to the complications also caused by paraplegic injuries, quadriplegia can also cause additional long-term physical effects, such as:

  • Limited or complete absence of arm and hand function
  • Problems speaking, swallowing, or breathing without assistance, including needing a ventilator to support breathing
  • Susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and eating
  • Muscle loss in many parts of the body
  • Loss of bone density
  • Pressure ulcers caused by constant sitting in chairs or lying in bed and the inability to feel pain as pressure sores form
  • Digestive issues

What Types of Accidents Cause Paraplegia and Quadriplegia?

Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia or quadriplegia may occur in various kinds of catastrophic accidents. Examples of accidents that may cause permanent paralysis include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls, including slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents and falls from heights
  • Sports and recreational accidents, including contact sports, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, horseback riding, and skateboarding
  • Explosions
  • Construction site accidents
  • Assaults, including blunt force trauma, stab wounds, and gunshot wounds

Get Help from Our Catastrophic Injury Attorneys Now

If you suffered paraplegia or quadriplegia due to a catastrophic accident that was someone else’s fault, get legal help to pursue maximum financial recovery for your losses. Contact The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., today for a free consultation to learn more about how one of our catastrophic injury attorneys can help.

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.