Paraplegia and quadriplegia are both caused by injury to the spinal cord. This can be the result of a complete spinal injury, where the spinal cord is completely severed, or a partial injury where the cord is damaged so severely that it no longer functions. We discussed these injuries in more detail in our last article, which you can read here.
In this post, we’ll talk more about the specific symptoms and complications that come with spinal cord injuries and how in-home care can help these patients live more independent lives.
Paraplegia is a form of partial paralysis that affects the lower torso and legs. Paraplegics often rely on wheelchairs to move around and most can still live independent lives. Paraplegia can also affect coordination in the hands and arms, making it difficult to perform tasks requiring fine motor skills. For these patients, rehabilitative therapy is an excellent resource for rebuilding coordination and improving sensation.
Quadriplegics, by comparison, face a more difficult future. For these patients, injuries occur high-enough in the spine to paralyze both their arms and legs, which makes self-care nearly impossible. In many cases, quadriplegics are bedridden or confined to a motorized chair, relying on family, friends, and professional caregivers to help them accomplish the tasks of daily living.
Symptoms and Complications
In addition to paralysis, both paraplegia and quadriplegia are often accompanied by a host of other side effects. There are a few that are unique to each condition, but for the most part, they all share the following symptoms:
- Chronic Pain: This is seen in paraplegics and quadriplegics who either recover or retain sensation below the point of injury. The pain is due to disuse in the paralyzed limbs, which leads to muscle atrophy.
- Weakness: Due to their condition, movement and physical activity steadily decline, leading to loss of muscle mass. This muscle weakness makes it much more difficult to accomplish certain tasks of daily living.
- Infection: Secondary infections are common at the injury site and in the paralyzed limbs. Spinal injury patients also frequently develop skin problems and bed sores.
- Weight Gain: This is a very common side effect, especially for those who are in recovery. Due to reduced daily physical activity — like simply walking around and lifting household objects — it’s very likely that paraplegic or quadriplegic patients will gain weight if they don’t adjust their calorie intake to counterbalance this reduced activity level.
- Loss of Sensation: The loss of sensation below the point of injury is almost inescapable, and in some cases is so severe that the victim won’t be able to tell where the affected limbs are positioned in relation to the rest of the body without looking at them.
Needs in Daily Life
Obviously, those who suffer from paraplegia and quadriplegia rely heavily on those around them to simply get through the day. The skills of daily living must be relearned from scratch, which is often a hard-fought battle.
Paraplegic patients can often learn to be largely independent with regular therapy and exercise, but there are still many things they need assistance with, like transportation, moving around the house, and many daily chores.
Quadriplegics, on the other hand, require almost constant care with everything from eating, to bathing, and basic self-care.
Generations Home Care can Help
In the wake of a spinal cord injury, the road to recovery can be long. But it isn’t one that must be walked alone. If you or a loved one in the greater Arizona region are seeking care, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer a variety of services to help you remain happy and healthy in your life.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care offers personalized in-home care and support services to those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. We take a holistic approach and emphasize a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term postoperative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.