Munson Health
Quadriplegia and Paraplegia

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by Smith N


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
  • Quadraplegia—damage to the spinal cord at the base of the skull or neck
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Paralysis due to spinal cord injuries may be total or partial. This depends on how much of the spinal cord is damaged. In addition to paralysis of the arms and/or legs, you may also suffer from:
  • Incontinence —bladder or bowel
  • Sexual dysfunction — male or female
  • Trouble breathing
  • Difficulty sitting upright depending on the level of the damage
Inactivity due to paraplegia and quadriplegia can cause additional problems, like:
People with paraplegia and quadriplegia may also become depressed because of:
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Increased dependence on others


Diagnosis involves finding out where and how badly the brain and spinal cord are damaged. To do this, doctors will likely do the following tests:


American Muscular Dystrophy Association

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation



Health Canada

Canadian Paraplegic Association (Manitoba)



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