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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.


Rehab therapies:

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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • 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.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Quadriplegia (Discharge Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference