Quadriplegia is paralysis of both the arms and the legs. Quadriplegia is typically associated with a spinal cord injury, but quadriplegia can also stem from conditions such as cerebral palsy or a stroke. In the case of spinal cord injury, the brain is no longer able to receive communication from the spinal cord regarding movement and feeling, thus the limbs are unable to get the message to move. It is common place for those with quadriplegia to have a spinal cord injury located in the neck.
There are many variances in severity when it comes to quadriplegia. Persons may be able to move their body, but not their arms and legs. Some may be fully paralyzed from the neck down. Some may experience breathing problems along with paralysis and some may have movement of their arms, but not their hands.
In addition to paralysis, there are also other complications that accompany quadriplegia. Loss of bladder and bowel control is one complication. Since communication from the spinal cord has been impaired, this effects the ability to control the bowels. It is important to have ongoing medical care to avoid constipation and urinary infections.
There are also concerns with the respitatory system for quadriplegics. If the diaphragm is injured, it could effect the ability to breathe. Quadriplegics may have to learn how to make themselves breathe as opposed to breathing automatically. There is also an increased risk of pneumonia.
Since the majority of the body is immobile, there is always the concern that a quadriplegic can develop blood clots. Persons may be prescribed blood thinners to prevent the development of blood clots.
Pressure sores are also a concern since quadriplegics can’t change their body positions on their own. It is important for care givers to ensure that their loved one changes position often. There are also mattresses made specifically to help reduce the chance of pressure sores.