Quadriplegia overview

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Quadriplegia Microchapters


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Quadriplegia is a symptom in which a human experiences paralysis affecting all four limbs, although not necessarily total paralysis or loss of function. The condition is also termed tetraplegia. Both terms mean "paralysis of four limbs"; however, tetraplegia is becoming the more commonly accepted term for this condition. "Tetra", like "plegia", has a Greek root, whereas "quadra" has a Latin root.

Epidemiology and Demographics

There are about 5,000 cervical spinal cord injuries per year in the United States (~1 in 60,000—assuming a population of 300 million), and about 1,000 per year in the UK (also ~1 in 60,000—assuming a population of 60 million). In 1988, it was estimated that lifetime care of a 27-year-old rendered tetraplegic was about US $1 million and that the total national costs were US $5.6 billion per year.[citation needed] It currently costs between $520,000 to $550,000 per year to care for a ventilator dependent tetraplegic.[1]


  1. Susanne R. Hayes, M.S., R.N., C.R.R.N., Adaptations, LLC, Estimate of Health Care Costs, October 21, 2010

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