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Quadriplegia

What do I need to know about quadriplegia?

Quadriplegia, or tetraplegia, is paralysis of your arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs. Quadriplegia is caused by damage to your spinal cord. When the spinal cord is damaged, you lose feeling and movement. Your symptoms may depend on the location and severity of your spinal cord injury.

What treatments might I need?

You will need to stay in the hospital right after your injury. You will then be moved to a rehab center. The goal of rehab is to help you learn to take care of yourself as much as possible. A team of healthcare providers will help you learn to function with quadriplegia. Ask for more information on any of the following rehab treatments:

  • Respiratory care includes exercises and treatments to help you breathe and keep your lungs healthy. You may need respiratory care if you have trouble breathing. You may need a machine called a ventilator to breathe for you.

  • Skin care helps prevent pressure sores. Specialists will help you learn how to keep your skin healthy.

  • A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve your movement and strength.

  • An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

  • Bowel and bladder programs help you manage when you urinate or have a bowel movement.

When should I or someone close to me contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.

  • You have trouble urinating or urinate less than usual.

  • Your abdomen is swollen and firm.

  • You have blood in your urine or bowel movement.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.

  • You cough up blood.

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

  • You have blurred vision or see spots.

  • You have cold, dry skin with goose bumps below your spinal cord injury.

  • You have hot, sweaty, red skin above your spinal cord injury.

  • You have a sudden throbbing headache.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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