Quadriplegia

Synonyms: Tetraplegia

Medical Specialties: Orthopedics, Physical medicine & rehab


Clinical Definition

Quadriplegia is paralysis of both arms and legs, which occurs when motor and/or sensory function in the cervical spinal segments is impaired or lost due to spinal cord damage. The result is paralysis of the upper limbs, lower limbs, trunk and pelvic organs, which may occur after a high spinal cord accident or a stroke.

 


In Our Own Words

Quadriplegia is paralysis of all four limbs. Often caused by a severe cervical (neck) injury, it occurs when spinal cord axons are damaged, causing varying levels of paralysis, depending on the extent and region of the injury. This paralysis of the limbs in quadriplegia is just one of many aspects of spinal cord injury, which may produce other conditions that need to be managed, such as bowel and bladder dysfunction.

Relevant Conditions
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Caregiver depression/stress
  • Depression
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sources
  • Harvard Medical School. Medical Dictionary of Health Terms. Harvard Health Publications. www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed July 2013.
  • Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine. Nursing and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. Copyright 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • Spinal Injury Network. “Quadriplegic Spinal Cord Injuries.” www.spinal-injury.net. Accessed July 2013.
  • Spinal Injury Network. “Quadriplegic Spinal Cord Injuries.” www.spinal-injury.net. Accessed July 2013.

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