Paralysis/Paraplegia/Quadriplegia Injury FAQs

What is paralysis?

Paralysis is a loss or impairment of motor function in one or more muscle groups. Paralysis can be the loss of voluntary movement, such as in conditions of paraplegia or quadriplegia. The mechanism of paralysis is the interruption of one or more motor pathways at any point from the cerebrum to the muscle fiber. If you or a loved one has suffered paraplegia or quadriplegia due to someone else’s carelessness, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

What are the types of paralysis?

Quadriplegia/Tetraplegia: When a person has a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebra, paralysis will affect the cervical spinal nerves resulting in the paralysis of all four limbs. Furthermore, the abdominal and chest muscles will be affected, which can cause weakened breathing and the inability to properly cough. Those who suffer from this paralysis are referred to as Quadriplegic or Tetraplegic.

Paraplegia: When a personal has a spinal cord injury below the first thoracic spinal nerve, he or she may suffer from Paraplegia. The severity of the paralysis can vary, from impairment of leg movement, to complete paralysis of the legs and abdomen up to approximately the nipple line. Paraplegics have full motion and use of the arms and hands. If an injury occurs to the Cauda Equina, which is a mass of nerves that fan out from the spinal cord between the first and second Lumbar region, the result is Paraplegia, but is referred to as Cauda Equina Syndrome injury. These nerves have the ability to grow again and recover function if they are not too badly damaged.

What are the levels of injury?

The level of injury, also known as a lesion, is the point in the spinal cord where the damage has occurred. This can be determined by counting the nerves from the top of the spine downwards. These nerves are grouped into four areas: the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral, i.e. the four sections of the spine. Damage to the spinal cord at these points determines how muscles, organs, and sensations will be affected. There are also two types of lesions: complete injury and an incomplete injury. A complete injury will cause a complete loss of muscle control and sensation below the level of the lesion. An incomplete injury will cause paralysis in only the muscles directly affected or impaired sensation. Identifying the level and type of lesion is important in determining the severity of the paralysis.

What are incomplete spinal cord injuries?

Anterior Cord Syndrome: when damage is towards the front of the spine. Can leave a victim with the loss or impaired ability to sense pain, temperature and touch sensations bellow their level of injury.

Central Cord Syndrome: when damage is in the center of the spinal cord. Can leave a victim with the loss of function in the arms, but some leg movement may be preserved.

Posterior Cord Syndrome: when the damage is towards the back of the spine. Can leave a victim with muscle power, pain and temperature sensation, however, he or she might have trouble coordinating movement of limbs.

What can cause paralysis?

Paralysis can be caused by spinal cord injuries incurred as the result of blunt trauma, automobile and boating accidents, falls, sports injuries, infection, gunshot wounds, or medical error, among other causes.

What can cause paraplegia?

The most common causes of paraplegia are diseases of the spinal cord, nerve roots, or peripheral nerves, hereditary causes, spinal tumors, and traumatic injury.

What can cause quadriplegia?

The most common causes of quadriplegia are injury to the brain or cervical spine, or diseases of the peripheral nerves, muscles, myoneural junctions, gray matter of the spinal cord, brainstem, or cerebrum.

What tests are done to test for paralysis, paraplegia, and quadriplegia?
  • X-Rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Electromyography
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
What is the treatment for Paraplegia?*

The treatment of paraplegia is dependent on the cause of the paraplegia. If it is due to spinal cord injury, then it is necessary to decompress and stabilize the spine. Surgery can relieve pressure if needed. In all instances, immediate professional medical care is critical.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What is the treatment for Quadriplegia?*

The treatment of quadriplegia is dependent on the cause of the quadriplegia. If it is due to spinal cord injury, then the spine must be immobilized. Surgery can relieve pressure if needed. In all instances, immediate professional medical care is critical.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What is the rehabilitation process for paraplegia or quadriplegia?*

There is a lengthy rehabilitation process for quadriplegics or paraplegics. The durations of the rehabilitation are dictated by the degree of injury.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

Paralysis/Paraplegia/Quadriplegia Data & Statistics
  • 7800 paralyzing injuries in the US each year
  • Average age at injury is 33
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