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Difference Between Paraplegia and Quadriplegia

Paraplegia vs Quadriplegia

The spinal cord is an important part of our body and together with the brain and retina makes up our central nervous system.  It connects the brain and the peripheral nervous system; co-ordinating signals that are transmitted to different parts of the body.  Supporting the spinal cord for protection is the spinal column.
When an accident or disease causes injury to the spinal column, the spinal cord is also affected.  Damage to the spinal cord can disrupt the transmission of signals between the brain and other parts of the body, disabling messages from the brain from reaching the parts to make them move.  Trauma to the spinal cord can result in paraplegia and quadriplegia.

Both paraplegia and quadriplegia are medical conditions that can involve partial or total paralysis of parts of the body.  These conditions can be caused by an injury to the spinal cord, or by trauma, and diseases such as tumors, scoliosis, and spina bifida.  Although these ailments cannot be cured, damage to the spinal cord can be slowed through treatment.

People suffering from paraplegia and quadriplegia usually acquire additional health problems like fractures, pneumonia, infections, sores, bowel, urinary and cardiovascular problems, and chronic pain.  This is due to their inability to move by themselves, oftentimes requiring the use of wheelchairs to move around.

Quadriplegics have a harder time because the paralysis is on all four limbs, meaning both the arms and the legs are paralyzed.  This happens when the injury on the spinal cord is more severe which results in loss of sensation and control in the hands, the legs, and the body.  Sometimes a quadriplegic’s hands can function but the fingers don’t work.

Paraplegics on the other hand only lose sensation and control of the lower part of their body.  An injury or disease may cause the spinal cord tissue to swell.  For those that have lesser injuries, walking is still possible but in total or complete paraplegia, the patient is always dependent on a wheelchair.

Treatment for both paraplegia and quadriplegia will necessitate hospital confinement but quadriplegia would require a much longer hospital stay.  Rehabilitation and physiotherapy is needed to help them with recovery and they have to get used to being in a wheelchair and in needing the help of others when taking care of bodily functions.

Summary:
1. In paraplegia, the injury is on the lower spine causing the lower part of the body to lose sensation and function in these parts, particularly the legs.  In quadriplegia, the injury is on the cervical spine and is worse than in paraplegia, causing loss of function on both the legs and the arms and loss of sensation from the neck down.
2. Disease and trauma can cause these two ailments but quadriplegia is the result of more severe injuries than in paraplegia.
3. Quadriplegia needs a longer stay in the hospital than paraplegia, and it requires more physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
4. Both would initially require the use of a wheelchair but there are paraplegics that can still walk despite their injury.


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