Quadriplegic is total or partial loss of use of all four limbs and the torso. A paraplegic is injury resulting in impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower half of the body, the legs or two limbs.  So, the major distinction is quadriplegic, as the name implies -quad – is loss or partial loss of four limbs and paraplegic is loss or partial loss of two limbs

The loss of use may be caused by a spinal cord injury such as fractures and dislocations because of motor vehicle collisions, blunt force trauma, boating accidents, falls, or sports injuries.  Over 80% of spinal cord injuries occur among males. Motor vehicle crashes account for 42% in Alberta.

In quadriplegia the injury is usually located in the upper part of the spine called the cervical spine which is why it affects all four limbs because the use of the arms comes from nerves stemming from the upper part of the spinal cord. Therefore, if your injury is in the mid back or lower back the nerves to the arms will likely be okay, but you may very well lose use or partial use of the legs since the middle or lower back nerves are from the mid spine and down.

Quadriplegia is a far more complicated injury as it may require a ventilator or electrical implant for the person to breathe. This is because the diaphragm is controlled by spinal nerves exiting the upper level of the neck. There are many complications from quadriplegia including, pain, blood clots, pressure sores, respiratory problems, spastic muscles, autonomic dysreflexia, and loss of bladder and bowel control.

Complications resulting from paraplegia may include: pressure sores (decubitus), Thrombosis, Depression, Bladder and bowel incontinence, Impotence, Circulation disorders, Autonomic dysreflexia, Loss of muscle tone, Pneumonia and other respiratory complications.  So, you can read there is a significant overlap in complications between the two injuries.


Only 30% of people with paraplegia return to some type of employment. This is despite advances in treatment focused on eliminating many of the complications listed above. This is also despite a large portion of the settlement a personal injury lawyer in Alberta will obtain for you is for future treatment costs.  Future treatment costs will amount to several hundred thousand dollars up to a million dollars just for future treatment costs. Call Handel Law Firm now for a free consultation on your situation. Your claim has many “heads of damages”, some unique to your personal situation, and if you do not advance all of them it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.