A paraplegic and a quadriplegic are individuals suffering from some sort of damage to the spinal cord, whether it was caused by injury or by congential problems. This damage results in some degree of paralysis, or the inability to move, as well as changes in sensory function. The difference stems from the location and the extent of damage.
What Is a Paraplegic?
A paraplegic is a person with a condition known as paraplegia or paralysis. Paraplegia is sensory and motor impairment of the lower extremities, and possibly part of the trunk area, caused by an injury to the spinal cord. It can also be caused by a congential problem, or damage which occurs to a developing fetus.
Classifications of Paraplegia
Paraplegia is broken down into two classifications, incomplete and complete. An incomplete paraplegic refers to partial damage to the spinal cord that is not absolute. This means some incomplete paraplegics have the ability to perform some sitting and balancing activities and walking. Some paraplegics may also maintain some control over bowel, bladder and sexual functions.
What Is a Quadriplegic?
A quadriplegic is a person with damage to the spinal cord at a high level, resulting in sensory and motor function impairment in all four limbs and the trunk. Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, can produce difficulties with bowel, bladder and sexual functions, as well as respiratory or breathing functions, in addition to body paralysis and decreased or altered sensory function. This change in sensory function may result in decreased sensations or numbness and burning sensations throughout the body.
Paraplegic vs Quadriplegic
Both the paraplegic and the quadriplegic suffer from some degree of paralysis. The major difference is the location of the injury to the spinal cord that determines the limbs affected and the amount of movement and sensation remaining in the limbs and trunk. However, even though some paraplegics have the ability to move their legs to some extent, both the paraplegic and the quadriplegic rely on the use of assistive devices, such as a wheelchair, for mobility.
Complications of Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
The inability to feel or move your limbs or body in a normal fashion can result in complications such as pressure sores, blood clots and frozen joints. Other complications are problems with digestion, respiration and bowel or bladder function. Difficulties with the management of blood pressure may also result due to decreased mobility and autonomic dysreflexia. Autonomic dysreflexia is a condition in which decreased sensations produce a reflex response to pain issues. This results in a constriction of blood vessels--a protective response of the body--which in turn can create problems with the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate.