Extreme Spinal Cord Injuries – Quadriplegia, Tetraplegia and Paraplegia Explained

Most of the people our Hampton Roads personal injury lawyers help after car wrecks or accidents at a business make a full recovery. However, in certain cases like extreme spinal cord injuries or brain injuries, these victims may never fully recover.

These cases are among the saddest we deal with. It’s important to fight hard for these victims because they have life-long medical needs to cover.

Spinal cord injuries that entail the severing of the spinal cord are among the most serious types of injuries that can be sustained in an automobile, truck or a motorcycle accident, or a slip and fall.

These injuries often entail paralysis and a loss of core body functions. They can place a tremendous burden on caregivers.


The most serious conditions are quadriplegia, tetraplegia, and paraplegia, but few people outside the medical profession know the meanings of the terms. Here we explain extreme spinal cord injuries.

What is Paraplegia?

Paraplegia is a severing of the spine below the first thoracic spinal nerve. Paraplegics suffer partial or complete paralysis of their legs or their entire trunk.

The severity of the injury will impact whether the truck is also paralyzed or not.

When an auto accident victim suffers an injury to the first to eighth vertebrae, the patient usually retains control of their hands. However, a lack of trunk control may be caused by the lack of abdominal muscle control.

If the severe spinal injury occurs in the ninth to 12th vertebrae, the patient will typically retain control of his or her abdominal muscles and trunk. However, if you suffer an injury to your sacral and lumbar areas, you may lose control of the legs and hips.

What is Quadriplegia and Tetraplegia?

Quadriplegia and tetraplegia are the same conditions.  The medical community uses the term tetraplegia to describe the injury, but patients are far more likely to use quadriplegia.

Quadriplegia and tetraplegia impact all four limbs, as well as the torso, states Spinalcord.com.  Most people who are diagnosed with tetraplegia suffer a major paralysis below their neck. Many of them are unable to move altogether.

Quadriplegia is the product of damage that occurs high in the spinal cord, usually in the cervical spine between C1-C7.

The higher the spinal cord injury occurs, the more serious the injury. Injuries that occur at the top of the spinal cord are often immediately fatal.

Extreme spinal cord injuries are terrible injuries that ruin the lives of victims and their family. Often quadriplegics require a ventilator or electrical implant to breathe properly. The fact their arms are also paralyzed means this condition is even more debilitating than paraplegia. Hand and arm movement is possible in some instances.

Extreme spinal cord injuries often entail a loss of sexual function and other conditions like incontinence.

It’s rare to suffer a serious spinal injury of this nature in car wreck. If you or a loved one suffers paraplegia or quadriplegia, you will typically require intensive medical care for the rest of your life. It’s crucial that you recover the most you can from the at-fault driver.

Call our Virginia Beach car accident injury lawyers for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077 or read our spinal cord injuries FAQs.

John Cooper

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