Quadriparesis, also known as tetraparesis, is a partial deficit characterized by weakness in all four limbs. The main cause usually is a significant injury in the spinal cord.
We must remember that the central nervous system is a complex structure, which is made up of many nerves and information processing centers, such as the brain. For this system to work properly, it must be unharmed, allowing communication between one point and another.
When there are alterations in the nerve pathways, such as in the medulla – where all the pathways pass – serious complications such as quadriparesis can occur. It is important that we differentiate it from other conditions such as hemiplegia or hemiparesis since only half of the body is affected (which involves an arm and a leg on the same side).
Many types of spinal cord injury give rise to this condition. This can be classified according to the extent of the lesion, the magnitude of the deficit and the different symptoms that are found together with the original disorder.
Causes of Quadriparesis
As mentioned above, the main problem is usually a major spinal cord injury that can be caused by tumors, compressions, trauma, or damage to the cervical spine. However, It’s possible that some brain injury is causing this problem.
Traffic accidents, with strong traumatic events in the spine, are among the frequent causes of quadriparesis. In addition, there are other specific tumors or diseases that develop in the spinal canal, which can complicate and cause this condition. It is common for this disorder to occur idiopathically in children or babies, although the frequency is quite low.
Some authors attribute this phenomenon to the various oxygen disorders that occur during childbirth.
By decreasing the amount of oxygen in the baby, whether the delivery was complicated or not, it is likely to develop areas of ischemia in the brain, which affect the transmission of nerve signals to the limbs.
Symptoms of tetraparesis
Depending on the location of the injury, complications may be greater or lesser. It is rare for quadriparesis to occur without any associated symptom.
In addition to the motor deficit, we have:
=> Sphincters lack of control.
=> Alteration in sexual performance
=> Respiratory problems
=> Complete or partial abolition of sensitivity.
=> Neuropathic pain
Finding the solution
Unfortunately, it is often difficult for a patient to return to normal once he or she is diagnosed with tetraparesis. It will depend on the injury that lies behind the deficit.
Even so, many of these patients do not have such a marked deficit and it is possible that through physiotherapy and rehabilitation they will reach normality, or almost normality, with a quite successful recovery.
The best thing is always to look for measures that can prevent these events, which should be individualized according to the life and conditions of each patient. However, treatment may include:
=> Respiratory care: improve the movement of secretions to prevent secondary infections
=> Skin care: anti-scarring mattresses and daily check all skin for other lesions
=> Occupational therapy
=> Rehabilitation exercises for movement and strength
=> Specific and special programs for bowel and bladder control