Tetraplegia vs Paraplegia

Tetraplegia and paraplegia are both caused by spinal cord injury. When injury level is at c8 or above, it will result in tetraplegia/ spinal cord injury quadriplegia. Injury at T1 or below will cause paraplegia.


What is the difference between paraplegic and quadriplegic?

In paraplegia, arms and hands functions remain intact. So one can become independent in all activities of daily living. In quadriplegia as the arms and hands functions get impaired, so one needs assistance in some activities of daily living.

Tetraplegia vs Paraplegia


But are there some advantages of tetraplegia vs paraplegia? Are there some blessings in disguise? The answer is yes. Quadriplegics do have some advantages over low level paraplegics. All these advantages are listed below


  • In quadriplegia a phenomenon occurs known as spasticity. In which muscles contract automatically due to some stimulus below injury. Spasticity not only maintain muscles and bones density but also tells you that there is something wrong below injury . Something is hurting you and you needs to look for it and correct it. In low level paraplegics spasticity doesn’t occur.


  • Autonomic dysreflexia is also an alarm of danger for quadriplegics. There is either a block catheter, a full bowel or anything else causing pain. So you react promptly and to solve the problem. Autonomic dysreflexia doesn’t occur in low level paraplegics.

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  • A successful bowel program is very helpful in living active life after spinal cord injury. It is one which takes less time, bowel empties completely and bowel accident doesn’t occur. In individuals suffering from quadriplegia, the bowel is a reflex bowel which means, that by digital rectal stimulation, defecation reflex is started and the bowel empties completely and in less time. In low level paraplegics defecation reflex is missing and bowel is flaccid. The bowel doesn’t empty easily and sphincter muscles stay loose. So a successful bowel program requires a lot of hard work.


  • Reflex erection makes individuals suffering from quadriplegia better candidates for marital life. They can also ejaculate easily with high amplitude vibrator. So chances of becoming a father are also good in quadriplegia. In low level paraplegics there are difficulties in erection and ejaculation.


  • In healthy persons, when the weather is hot perspiration will occur and blood vessels will relax to emit heat. Similarly in winters,  vessels will stay tight to prevent heat loss. But in quadriplegia this procedure is missing. It can be used as a benefit also. Few hours stay in air condition in hot weather and near heater in winters will allow quadriplegics to stay outside for some time. In low level paraplegics the body reacts to temperature more like a healthy person. So the benefit cannot be taken.