Quadriplegia Complaint QLD - Queensland Medical Rights Solicitors

LAWYER HELPLINE: 07 3613 7325

If you think that you have received inadequate or negligent medical treatment for quadriplegia, our solicitors will be able to assist you in making a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland. Our QLD based solicitors deal with health care complaints on a ‘pro bono’ basis and will not make any charge to you for advice on how to make a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman. A complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman in QLD is not a medical negligence compensation claim and will not result in the payment of compensation but may assist you in further understanding what went wrong and why you were treated in the way that has caused you concern. There are a number of possible outcomes and the Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman may be able to obtain a more full explanation of the circumstances of any alleged negligence or may give you more details about the treatment that you have received.


Quadriplegia is also known as tetraplegia involves a paralysis of the arms, trunk and legs to a great degree, usually because of a traumatic injury. If the injury is high enough, up to C2, there can be respiratory failure and a need for a respirator to breathe. The paralysis of these extremities is also associated with sensory deficit, a lack of circulatory support and a lack of temperature regulation. The paralysis can be spastic, with stiff muscles and contracted joints, or flaccid, with loose muscles.

The major cause of quadriplegia is damage to the cervical spinal cord from C1 to C7. They usually involve an injury to the cervical spinal bones that then crush or sever the spinal cord. C1 to C4 injuries usually involve complete arm injuries and leg injuries while injuries to C1-C7 often have sparing of some of the arm function. All quadriplegics have loss of some of the finger movement so some quadriplegics have normal function of their upper arms with the exception of the fingers.

Major causes of quadriplegia include the following:

  • Car accidents, especially with ejection from the car due to a lack of seat belts
  • Diving into water that is too shallow
  • A fall from a height
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Diseases like tumors, MS, transverse myelitis, polio, muscular dystrophy
  • Violent interactions

Technically, you can damage your spinal cord without breaking the spinal column. In addition, you can fracture your vertebrae and not do any damage to the spinal cord. A ruptured disc or an arthritic bone spur can cause pressure on the spine and can result in quadriplegia.

Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. A complete injury involves a complete laceration or necrosis of the spinal cord, while an incomplete injury spares a portion of the spinal cord as part of the injury.

The spinal cord has three main segments as divided for classification of injuries to the spinal cord. The functional medullary segment can be injured. The segment contains un-paralyzed muscles that work under voluntary control and have different degrees of strength.

There is a lesional segment, also called an injured metamere, which consists of muscles that are denervated. This means that the lower motor neuron of the muscle has become injured. The muscles are flaccid, atrophy readily, and have no ability to spontaneously contract. You can get joint contractures with this type of injury.

There is an injured sublesional segment located below the injured metamere which has intact lower motor neurons so that the muscle tone is increased and there is spasticity of the muscles. The muscles have no volitional control.

In incomplete spinal cord injuries there can be different types of presentations. The three main presentations include the following:

  • Central cord syndrome. The damage involves the gray matter and sometimes some of the white matter of the spinal cord.
  • Brown-Sequard syndrome. This is when half of the spinal cord has been severed and the other half is intact.
  • Anterior Cord Syndrome. This is when there is damage to the anterior horns and the anterolateral tracts. The anterior spinal artery may be divided.

In some cases, tendon transfers can be done to regain function of some parts of the upper extremity but this sort of thing can be unreliable and unpredictable. Other surgeries the quadriplegic needs are those that prevent contractions and spasticity. Spasticity is a common complication of incomplete injuries to the spinal cord. Another possible treatment is to inject botulinum toxin into the spastic muscle to get relaxation of the muscle for a few months. Muscle shortening is therefore prevented. There are more incomplete lesions seen lately because of better protection of occupants in motor vehicles.

The major symptoms of quadriplegia involve a loss of function of the upper and lower extremities. There is also difficulty managing the torso and loss of control over the bowel and bladder. Sexual function is lost along with problems in digestion, breathing and the autonomic functions involving the ability to maintain the blood pressure when sitting up. Some patients have numbness of the extremities while others have burning neuropathic pain.

Many quadriplegics suffer from bed sores due to immobility as well as osteoporosis, fractured bones, spasticity, frozen joints, deep vein thrombosis and heard disease. These can partially be improved by good hygiene and physical care. Those with a C1 injury will likely be ventilator dependent because they can’t breathe on their own. Those with a C7 injury, on the other hand, have function of much of the upper extremities.

Complete severing of the cord leads to the greatest injury to the body, while partial severing or bruising of part of the spinal cord results in lesser degrees of injury to the body’s functioning. Most are wheelchair bound although modern medicine has allowed some to walk for brief periods of time.

When the arm is paralyzed, there is loss of function around the elbow and hand. This considerably dampens their ability to function. Fortunately, tendon transfer surgeries can be done to improve the function of the arm/ Even hand function can be restored with orthopedic surgery to the upper extremity.

Experts believe that there are about 5,000 cervical spinal cord injuries per year in the US. This represents one case per 60,000 people. The lifetime care of a young quadriplegic is about $1 million USD and about $550,000 per year if the patient is ventilator dependent.

The prognosis of a person having a cervical spinal injury is bad if the diagnosis is missed, which happens 1 out of 20 times. Delayed diagnosis worsens the outcome considerably and can lead to death if the injury is a high level injury.

HELPLINE: 07 3613 7325