Quadriplegia and Paraplegia

Definition

Injury or disease to the nervous system can affect the ability to move a part of the body. This reduced motor ability is called paralysis.
  • Paraplegia—paralysis of both legs
  • Quadriplegia, sometimes called tetraplegia—paralysis of both legs and both arms
Paraplegia
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Causes

Quadriplegia and paraplegia are most often caused by spinal cord injuries. But, they can also be caused by diseases, such as:Most spinal cord injuries are caused by accidents, such as car crashes, falls, and sports injuries.Whether it is paraplegia or quadriplegia depends on the location along the spine where the injury occurs:
  • Paraplegia—damage below the neck
  • Quadriplegia—damage to the spinal cord at the base of the skull or neck
Quadriplegia
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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of quadriplegia and paraplegia include:
  • Jobs or sports activities that increase your chances of spinal injury—high-risk sports such as football, rugby, wrestling, gymnastics, diving, surfing, ice hockey, and downhill skiing
  • Family history of certain inherited nerve diseases
  • History of cancer—can cause compression of the spinal cord

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