How Do Paraplegia and Quadriplegia Differ?

There are five major regions of the spine, including the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. A car accident, fall, or other personal injury accident can lead to damage to any of these spinal regions. While any spinal injury should be taken seriously, severe damage can lead to permanent paralysis of some body parts and impaired functioning of certain organs.

Spinal cord injuries can vary greatly, so accurately diagnosing them is critical to understanding their severity and what limitations they will cause. Those who have spinal injuries or must care for someone who does may be confused by terms such as paraplegia and quadriplegia. Although similar, these two terms describe two very different results of a spinal cord injury.

Similarities Between Paraplegia and Quadriplegia

At first glance, you might assume that both paraplegia and quadriplegia are related to one another based solely on the fact that each ends with the same word: “plegia.” This is a Latin word that can be translated as “paralysis.” Therefore, one similarity between people with paraplegia and quadriplegia is that they both experience paralysis of some part or parts of their bodies.

Additionally, the paralysis that characterizes both paraplegia and quadriplegia can be either temporary or permanent. The duration and severity of either condition depend in large part on the severity of harm done to the spinal cord and the effectiveness of surgical and therapeutic interventions. 

Some people recover completely from their initial paralysis, while others do not recover at all, and still others experience a recovery between these two extremes.

Two Significant Differences Between Paraplegia and Quadriplegia

While both conditions describe the paralyzing effects of a spinal cord injury, there are two significant differences. These differences are:

Portion of the Spine Injured

First, whether someone is classified as having paraplegia or quadriplegia will depend on the portion of the spine that is injured. In paraplegia, the thoracic region in the spine sustains injury. This portion of your spine starts at the bottom of your neck and ends above your lower back area near the base of your rib cage.

Conversely, someone who is diagnosed with quadriplegia has suffered an injury to the cervical region of their spine. This region sits above the thoracic region and consists of the first seven vertebrae of your spine. It extends from the base of your skull to the base of your neck.

Areas of the Body Affected

Paraplegia and quadriplegia are also distinguishable based on the parts of the body that are affected by paralysis. 

In cases of paraplegia, the person’s legs and lower abdomen are paralyzed. This paralysis can be temporary or permanent and can also affect the organs in the abdomen. For example, a person with paraplegia may have no control over their bowels or bladder.

Both arms, both legs, and the organs in the chest and abdomen can all be impacted by quadriplegia. The individual can experience permanent or temporary paralysis of their limbs. They may also be unable to breathe without mechanical assistance due to paralysis of the diaphragm. 

All Spinal Injuries Deserve Prompt Medical Attention

The area of the spine affected will be the primary determining factor in whether you experience paraplegia or quadriplegia. In either case, a diagnosis of paraplegia or quadriplegia means that you are experiencing temporary or permanent paralysis of certain parts of your spine.

Obtaining prompt medical care can help mitigate the damage done to your spine and spinal cord. Getting to a hospital quickly can improve your chances of only experiencing temporary paralysis or seeing some improvement with your paralysis.

Contact Our Ocala Personal Injury Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala personal injury lawyers at Allen Law Firm, P.A. at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652