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What is the difference between paraplegia and quadriplegia?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Paraplegia and quadriplegia are two types of paralysis. Paralysis in the lower half of the body and both legs is called paraplegia. Paralysis in both arms and legs is called quadriplegia. A higher percentage of spinal cord injuries cause quadriplegia than paraplegia (56 percent to 43 percent).

Paraplegia is when people cannot feel or move their legs and feet due to a spinal cord injury. Paraplegia occurs after a spinal cord injury to the lower back, which prevents the brain from communicating with the parts of the body below the injury.

Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, is when people cannot feel or move their arms and legs due to a spinal cord injury. Quadriplegia/tetraplegia occurs after a spinal cord injury to the neck or upper back, where the damage prevents the brain from communicating with the rest of the body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.