Paraplegia vs. tetraplegia

Catastrophic car accidents can put individuals in great, lasting danger. When a car accident produces damage to the brain or spine, it can cause paralysis to the body. Many individuals come away from motor vehicle accidents with injuries such as broken bones, whiplash and burns.

Some individuals, however, are rushed to the hospital only to find out that they have sustained traumatic injury to their spinal cord, rendering them paralyzed. The two most common types of paralysis post-car accident are paraplegia and tetraplegia. What are they and what is the difference between the two?


Paraplegia occurs when an individual loses movement and/or feeling in the lower half of their body. Without the function of their lower limbs, paraplegics may need to re-learn how to function in everyday situations. Circumstances like going to the bathroom and putting on shoes might be different for the rest of their life.  


Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, can occur after a car accident when the victim loses feeling in most or all of their body and limbs. Individuals who suffer from tetraplegia after an accident may need the assistance of a care aid for some or all of their life.

Symptoms of spinal cord injuries

Individuals who have suffered injury to the spinal cord, leading to either paraplegia or tetraplegia may experience some or all of these symptoms. It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and each individual’s situation will be unique.

  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Pain in neck, back, affected areas
  • Numbness or tingling

Long term care and treatment are available for individuals with full or partial paralysis, but it is not inexpensive. If you, or a loved one, experienced some form of paralysis due to a car accident, you may be able to gain compensation from the negligent party.