Quadriplegia (kwod-ruh-PLEE-juh) is paralysis of both arms and both legs, usually
as a result of an injury, disease, or disorder that affects the cervical spine (the
part of the spine that's in the neck).
More to Know
The spinal cord is a long bundle of nerve
tissue that extends from the lower part of the brain down through the spine in the
middle of the back. It carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body. These
messages control things like heartbeat,
lung function, food digestion,
and movement. If the spinal cord is damaged or severed, the messages can be disrupted,
and the body might not be able to perform certain functions.
The spine, which surrounds and protects the spinal cord, is made up of small bones
(vertebrae) that are stacked on top of one another. The seven vertebrae in the neck
make up the cervical spine. An injury to the cervical spine that damages the spinal
cord can result in quadriplegia. This can be due to a fall, car accident, or sports
injury. Some diseases and other disorders, such as polio,
and cerebral palsy,
also can cause quadriplegia.
Some people with quadriplegia may still have some function of the limbs, such as
the ability to use their hands. In addition to having limited ability to move their
limbs, people with quadriplegia may also have trouble with breathing, digestion, bladder
and bowel function, and sexual function. The condition can also make them more susceptible
to other conditions like pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, and kidney stones.
Treatment usually consists of stimulating the muscles to increase circulation and
retain muscle tone, physical and rehabilitation therapy, treating any complications
that might arise, and in some cases reconstructive surgery.
Keep in Mind
Each case and patient with quadriplegia is unique. Although it's often a permanent
condition, depending on the cause, area of the spinal cord affected, and severity,
some people can regain partial use of their limbs, especially if the injury was lower
in the spine.
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