Quadriplegia & Cerebral Palsy
Quadriplegia is a type of cerebral palsy in which all four limbs are affected. It is usually accompanied by more severe symptoms of nerve damage interfering with normal muscle movement than the other types. The terms “pentaplegia” or “full body involvement” are used in cases where the head and neck are also affected. Patients with full body involvement may have additional complications. Eating and breathing can be affected by the lack of muscle control or the inability of muscles to work together in the normal patterns or rhythms of tightening and relaxing.
Sometimes severe diplegia is mistaken for mild quadriplegia because it is not unusual for the arms of a child with diplegia to be somewhat affected. There can be disagreement even among specialists about the proper diagnosis because the terms overlap.
There are different kinds of quadriplegia and they vary in severity. Patients with moderate spastic quadriplegia sit well, may be able to walk for a short distance using a walker, can lift themselves into a wheelchair or assist in the transfer, and may have sufficient hand control to feed themselves. Patients with severe spastic quadriplegia will not be able to walk even with a walker or other form of assistance, cannot move independently into a wheelchair, will have difficulty sitting, and usually are not capable of feeding themselves.
Because the quadriplegic child may have difficulties with eating, nutrition is very important to ensure proper nourishment for growth of tissue throughout the body. If the child is not growing properly, the brain is probably also not getting what it needs for growth and development.