Quadriplegia is a condition when a person experiences paralysis from the neck down. This condition can be caused by a severe spinal cord injury. Although quadriplegia is difficult to cure, it is still important to take steps to prevent complications.
Quadriplegia is sometimes referred to by another term, namely tetraplegia. If it is still mild, this condition is called quadriparesis or tetraparesis. People who have quadriplegia are generally unable to move their neck, chest, fingers and toes, back, thighs, and legs and feet.
Various Causes of Quadriplegia
Quadriplegia occurs when the nerves in the neck or vertebrae in the neck are injured or severely damaged. These nerves function to move the body and regulate heart rate, breathing, and digestion.
Disorders of the spinal cord that cause quadriplegia can be caused by various things, including:
- Traffic accident
- Severe injuries to the neck and spine, for example from falling from a high place, sports injuries, gunshot wounds, or stab wounds
- Cancer or tumors pressing on the nerves in the neck and spine
- Diseases of the spine, such as osteoporosis and scoliosis
- Nerve disorders or diseases, such as ALS, polio, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy.
Various Complications of Quadriplegia
The condition of quadriplegia will make a person disabled. In addition, sufferers of this condition can also generally experience various complications, such as:
Patients with quadriplegia will usually experience sensory nerve disturbances in the paralyzed body part. This makes them unable to feel any sensations, such as touch, pain, or heat and cold.
2. Respiratory disorders
In addition to numbness, quadriplegia sufferers can also experience nerve and muscle disorders in the chest that play a role in supporting the breathing process. This will make the patient dependent on a breathing apparatus, such as a ventilator, for the rest of his life.
3. Muscle disorders
When the spinal cord is damaged, the brain can no longer regulate reflexes and body movements. This can make quadriplegia sufferers over time experience stiffness or reduced muscle tissue (atrophy) because the body can no longer move.
4. Sexual and fertility disorders
Quadriplegia can affect anyone, both men and women. Men, this condition can cause erectile problems and difficulty ejaculating. While in women, quadriplegia can cause vaginal dryness.
Difficulty in having sex also makes it difficult for people with severe paralysis to have children.
Some people with quadriplegia may also experience neurogenic pain, which is a burning, stinging or burning pain in various parts of their body. This is thought to be caused by nerve damage that occurs when the spine is severely injured.
Because they cannot move and are free to move, not a few quadriplegia sufferers experience depression. In addition, losing their livelihood and living dependent on others also often makes sufferers of this condition feel depressed.
7. Wounds on the skin
Patients with quadriplegia generally can only sit or lie down. This lying position for too long can make skin tissue damaged and injured due to disruption of blood flow.
This condition is called a decubitus ulcer. To prevent these complications, patients who are paralyzed or have quadriplegia need to be helped to change their body position regularly.
In addition to the various complications above, quadriplegia can also cause various other problems or complications, such as disturbances in the process of urinating and defecating.
Steps for Handling Quadriplegia
Quadriplegia cannot be cured, but this condition still requires treatment so as not to make the sufferer's condition worse while preventing complications.
To treat quadriplegia, doctors can provide the following treatments:
People with quadriplegia can undergo physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to stay in touch with others or eat and drink comfortably.
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy are also important to train sufferers to remain active, even though they have to live with their limitations.
Counseling and psychotherapy
People with quadriplegia are at high risk for depression or even contemplating ending their life. Therefore, their mental health condition is also important to be monitored through regular counseling.
If necessary, doctors can provide psychotherapy and medications to treat symptoms of depression.
This therapy is to support body functions that have been damaged. For example, in quadriplegia patients who cannot breathe spontaneously, doctors can provide breathing assistance through assistive devices such as ventilators.
Meanwhile, for patients who cannot eat or drink, doctors can provide fluid and nutrition therapy parenterally or through infusion.
In addition to the various treatments above, doctors can also provide treatment according to the patient's needs. For example, to treat a bacterial infection due to a wound on the skin, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Meanwhile, to treat depression, doctors can prescribe antidepressant drugs.
If necessary, doctors can also perform surgery to prevent complications in patients with quadriplegia. Surgery is performed to remove bone fragments, foreign objects stuck to the spine, and repair spinal cord damage.
People with quadriplegia will generally find it difficult to live independently, so they need to be accompanied by other people so they can continue to live their lives and activities, such as eating, drinking, bathing, urinating, and defecating.
Quadriplegia is rare, but can have a major impact on the sufferer's quality of life. If you have a condition that can cause quadriplegia or feel weakness in your limbs, don't delay getting treatment from your doctor.