The first is the degree of injury to the vertebrae or spinal cord. The second is the location of the injury along the spine.
The two most common forms of disabling paralysis are paraplegia, where the injured person retains full use of their arms and hands, and quadriplegia (sometimes called tetraplegia), or paralysis of all four limbs. Both paraplegia and quadriplegia are caused by the same injury, just in different locations.
Paraplegia can be caused by an injury to any level of vertebrae, while quadriplegia is caused by injuries to the cervical spine. These are the vertebrae in the neck, above the first thoracic vertebrae.
Because of the specific nerves that pass through the cervical spine, injuries to vertebrae at different locations in the neck can cause subtle differences in symptoms. Someone who has damage to their C6 will be able to extend their wrists. Someone with damage to C5 will not.
Spinal injuries are often permanent. They affect a person’s ability to work, to care for themselves and quality of life. That’s why it is so important to have an experienced, skilful and dedicated lawyer to handle any case involving spinal cord injury.