What are the Types of Paralysis?

When a person suffers from paralysis, it dramatically affects their lives. Paralysis happens in different ways and varies in severity. Victims of paralysis often require long-term or lifelong medical care. This can become a tremendous expense for a victim and their family.

How does paralysis occur?

There are various causes of paralysis:

While many of the medical conditions that cause paralysis are nobody’s fault, there are times when the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional lead to the injury.

Spinal cord injuries are devastating. They can completely alter the way a person lives their lives, from the type of work they can do to their ability to perform everyday tasks. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are around 288,000 people living in the United States with disabilities from a spinal cord injury. They say that there are around 17,000 new spinal cord injury cases each year.

Spinal cord injuries happen primarily due to:

  • vehicle accidents (38.3%)
  • falls (31.6%)
  • violence (13.8%)
  • sports and recreation incidents (8.2%)
  • medical or surgical mistakes (4.6%)
  • other (3.5%)

The type of paralysis depends heavily on the severity of the incident that caused it. Here, we discuss the four levels of paralysis.


This refers to the paralysis of a single part of the body. A person affected with monoplegia usually has full function of all of their other limbs but cannot move or feel the affected limb. This type of paralysis is commonly caused by strokes, cerebral palsy, and brain injuries.


This type of paralysis usually impacts an arm and leg on one side of the body (“hemi” means half). This is not always permanent, and the intensity varies greatly. This type of paralysis often begins with a person feeling needles in the affected area that slowly turns into paralysis.


Paraplegia refers to paralysis below the waist of the victim. Those suffering from paraplegia lose control and feeling of both legs and their hips. Victims usually suffer from sexual dysfunction and waste management problems.

Paraplegia is often caused by spinal cord injuries that affect the brain’s ability to send and receive signals to the lower portion of the body. Brain injuries, including tumors and infections can also cause paraplegia.


This is the most severe form of paralysis and affects victims from the neck down. This usually results in all limbs and the torso being paralyzed. The severity of quadriplegia varies from person to person, and there are times when victims regain the use of some parts of their body through physical therapy and other methods. Spinal cord injuries are the leading cause of quadriplegia, though this can also be caused by:

  • traumatic brain injuries
  • lack of oxygen to the brain
  • drug or alcohol overdose
  • serious allergic reaction to medications

The cost of paralysis

The cost of paralysis depends on the severity of the injury but can range from $359,000 to over $1.1 million for the first year of medical care alone, with each subsequent year of medical care ranging from $43,000 to $191,000.

These figures are only part of the overall costs, and do not include things like:

  • necessary home or vehicle modifications
  • cost of travel to paralysis specialists
  • emotional and psychological damages
  • loss of consortium of a spouse
  • and more