Quadriplegic vs. Paraplegic

January 20, 2016 | 5:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

I bet you’re here because of a Google search, aren’t you? It makes perfect sense. Perhaps you and a friend were having a debate about what the true meaning of paraplegic is. Or maybe you just always wanted to know the difference and finally decided to make it happen. Whatever the reason, we’re glad you’re here! And we’re definitely going to answer that pesky question.

So just what the heck is the difference?

Just think of it as referring to the number of limbs affected. Paraplegia uses the prefix Para, which can be used to indicate a pair or two of something. Therefore, paraplegia is when you have lost function in the legs – TWO of your limbs.

So how about quadriplegia? I bet you can see where this is going. The prefix quad usually refers to four of something (think of four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, which are often called “quads”). Therefore, quadriplegia refers to the loss of feeling in all four limbs, arms and legs.

Which is more common?

There are slightly more paraplegic than quadriplegic individuals in the United States. According to a University of Alabama study, among those with spinal cord injuries, 52 percent are paraplegic and 47 percent are quadriplegic.

What’s behind the difference? Apparently it has something to do with age. Until the age of 45, paraplegia is more common – however, once patients surpass 45, the vast majority of paralysis cases will involve quadriplegia. The rate only increases after the age of 60, when two-thirds of all spinal cord injuries will result in quadriplegia.

What causes paraplegia and quadriplegia?

Those aforementioned spinal cord injuries. And what’s the most common way to damage the spinal cord? Via motor vehicle accident. Although there are no guarantees in an accident, this is a great reminder to always wear your safety belt.

Additional possibilities for spinal cord injuries are bad falls, gunshot wounds and traumatic sports injuries.

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