Thursday, September 29, 2011

What is a Quadriplegic?

What is a Quadriplegic?

Simply, a person who is paralyzed in both arms and both legs.  It's caused very easily, you have damaged your spinal column and cord, by either breaking the cord clean, or as in the case of my father, bruising the cord.  Quadriplegic's will refer to themselves as quads.

There are many conditions that make up a quadriplegic, you may see a Spastic Quadriplegic, Spastic Triplegic (3 limbs go spastic), Spastic Hemiplegic (one whole side of the body goes spastic), Spastic Monoplegic (only one limb is spastic), an upside down quad (has leg movement, possibly can walk, but no upper body strength), a series of injuries and resulting conditions depending on the height of the injury.  My father, much like Christopher Reeve, was a high quad.  Other quads maybe lower, giving them a variety of different capabilities.  This all depends as well on whether this was a clean break or a bruising type injury.

My father was a high quadriplegic, but he suffered bruising of the spinal column, so he had a fighting chance of recover.  In fact, the doctors felt so strongly about his recovery, they sedated him, and caused him to be asleep for 30 days so that he would not move at all. They also gave him a medicine that paralyzed him so that even in his sleep there would be no minor movements.  Of course, as we found out when he woke, this didn't completely work, but we were left with hope that he would become an upside down quad.  Someone that might even be able to walk, but suffer low upper body strength.

The importance with being a quadriplegic, for health and lifestyle reasons, is obviously to have as much of your spinal column and cord work after rehabilitation if rehabilitation is even possible.  My father was lucky and unlucky at the same time.  Due to his upside down nature of being a quad, he was able to feel quite a bit in his extremities and body.  This helped for things like early detection of bed sores - which can kill - as well as circulation issues in his limbs.  However, the tremendously crappy part about this, you feel things you can't fix.  If he hurt or got a charlie horse, or a spasm, he couldn't do anything about it.  If he had an itch he couldn't scratch it.

My father by 6 months into his injury, did get off the breathing tube and recovered quite a bit of movement in his arms.  He stopped progressing in walking, but eventually was able to even feed himself, that is until the spasms of being a Spastic Quadriplegic took over and he lost that too.

Being a quadriplegic, my father made the very best of the life he had for those 10 years.  He very rarely was serious about being a quadriplegic and truly embraced his condition.  He became an extensive volunteer, advocate, and even a pastor.

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