Quadriplegia or spinal cord injury is the parlysis of most of the body that includes the arms and legs.
Symptoms of the condition depend on the location and severity of the injury but patients experience the same symptoms no matter its type. Patients feel pain or an intense stinging sensation in the spinal cord; loss of movement, sensation, bowel, or bladder control; exaggerated reflex activities; changes in sexual function; and breathing difficulty. Emergency signs and symptoms may include fading in and out of consciousness; extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back; paralysis in any part of the body, loss of bladder or bowel control; or an abnormally positioned or twisted neck or back.
The condition cannot be reversed. But patients are treated prevent further injury and enable them to have an active and productive life within the limits of their disability. Thus , patients need urgent emergency attention and continuous care.
The condition may be due to traumatic or nontraumatic injuries. A traumatic injury may be caused by a sudden and severe blow to the spine leading to the fracture, dislocation, or compression of one or more vertebrae. Nontraumatic injury may be due to disk degeneration, arthritis, cancer, blood vessel problems or bleeding, and inflammation or infections.
In the emergency room, the doctor tests for sensory function and movement as well as asks about the circumstances of the accident in order to rule out spinal cord injury. However, emergency diagnostic tests are performed if the patient is not fully awake, has obvious weakness or neurological injury, or complains of neck pain. Diagnostic tests may include X-rays, computerized tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, and myelography. If spinal cord injury is suspected, the patient may be administered with traction to immobilize the spine, as well as high doses of methylprednisolone ,which is often given within eight hours of injury. The doctor further conducts a neurological examination a few days after the injury to determine its severity and predict the patient's extent of recovery. The patient may also undergo more diagnostic tests.