What Are the 4 Types of Paralysis? February 19, 2024.

What Are the 4 Types of Paralysis?

Our bodies are made up of over 7 trillion nerves. These nerves form the nervous system. Your nervous system sends signals throughout your body, basically telling it what to do.

When nerves are damaged, the signals from the brain can’t reach the muscles. So what happens if some nerves are damaged and can’t receive these signals?

Paralysis: Causes and Types

Paralysis is caused by nerve damage, which makes the muscles unable to receive signals. This makes people with paralysis unable to move certain parts of their body. Paralysis can be temporary or permanent. For instance, some people have facial paralysis on one side. This can cause the inability to close the affected eye, an asymmetrical smile, or loss of feeling in the face. In most cases, facial paralysis will go away over time. In contrast, something like paralysis of your whole body (which we will talk about later) is usually permanent. It has no cure or treatment options at this time.

Paralysis can be caused by injuries or medical conditions. 

According to The Cleveland Clinic, paralysis can be caused by a(n):

  • Birth Injury (Cerebral Palsy)
  • Stroke
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Brain Injury
  • Neurological Condition
  • Autoimmune Disease

Paralysis is categorized as partial or complete paralysis. Partial paralysis, or paresis, refers to when you have some feeling and control of your muscles. On the other hand, if you have complete paralysis you have no feeling or control of the affected limbs.

Paralysis is further categorized by which limb(s) it affects. Depending on the type of paralysis, it can affect anything from one limb or the whole body. There are four types of generalized paralysis including:

  • Monoplegia
  • Hemiplegia 
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia

Each of these types of paralysis affects different areas of the body. If you think you have one of these types of paralysis, it is important to tell your doctor. Depending on what is causing the paralysis, it could be reversed. In serious cases, prompt medical treatment can be life-saving. Continue reading to learn about the five types of paralysis and how they affect the body.

The Four Types of Paralysis


Monoplegia only affects one limb, such as an arm or leg. Monoplegia most commonly develops in people who have cerebral palsy. This type of paralysis can show up later in life for people who have undiagnosed cerebral palsy.

However, anyone could develop monoplegia if they had a stroke or suffered an injury that caused nerve damage. Monoplegia can improve over time, but many people have permanent paralysis of the affected limb.


Hemiplegia affects one side of the body. This means that the whole right side or left side of the body is paralyzed. Hemiplegia is usually caused by brain or spinal cord injuries. Some medical conditions can also cause this type of paralysis. These conditions include brain tumors, seizures, and autoimmune diseases. 

Hemiplegia is also one of the most common symptoms of a stroke. If you or someone you know experiences hemiplegia, it is important to get medical attention. With timely medical care, the paralysis can be treated and reversed.


Paraplegia is a type of paralysis that affects the lower body. The legs are the main limbs affected. Paraplegia occurs from spinal cord injuries. When the nerves in the spinal cord are damaged, they can’t send signals to the lower body for it to move. Depending on how high or low the spinal cord injury was, it could also affect upper body movements. There is currently no cure or treatment for paraplegia. 


Quadriplegia affects the whole body from the neck down. This means that the person’s legs, arms, and torso are paralyzed. Many people who are affected by quadriplegia are unable to move their body below their head at all. 

According to The Cleveland Clinic, the most common causes of quadriplegia are:

  • Car accidents
  • Violence-related injuries
  • Spine tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Infections that attack the spinal cord

The higher the injury is on the spinal cord the more extensive the damage will be. In some cases, quadriplegia can be treated depending on the nature of the injuries and where the injuries happened. 

Complications Associated with Paralysis

Paralysis can also affect other body systems in the paralyzed area. These complications typically depend on the type of paralysis someone has.

Bed Sores

People who are paraplegic or quadriplegic, are at a high risk for bed sores. Bed sores form when someone is lying or sitting in the same position for too long. So, someone who is bedridden and can’t feel pain would need to be helped into a new position every hour. If bed sores are not noticed, and left untreated, it can lead to deadly infections. Infections that are left untreated could then turn into sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition, where the body overreacts to an infection. 

Low or High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is an involuntary function of the body. This means that your blood pressure adjusts without you having to think about it. Blood pressure goes up or down throughout the day depending on what you are doing. But, when there is nerve damage the body may not be able to regulate blood pressure like normal. This is caused by the nervous system not being able to send messages to your blood vessels for them to expand or shrink. Since the nervous system can’t regulate blood pressure it may be extremely high or low.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is another complication that many paralyzed people experience. This is a blood clot that is located deep within the body. In a study, it was discovered that 43% of people with spinal cord injuries had a DVT within 4 weeks of their injury. Depending on the size of the blood clot, people may experience different symptoms. For instance, people with small blood clots may experience no symptoms. While people with medium to large blood clots may experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, or heart failure.

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are commonly diagnosed in people who are paralyzed. In a study at the University of Michigan, researchers looked at the risk of depression in people with spinal cord injuries. The results were shocking. They found that people with spinal cord injuries had an 80% increased risk of developing anxiety and depression. 

How Our Firm Can Help You

Paralysis is life-changing for the person and family involved. Permanent paralysis can leave you with lost wages, extensive medical bills, and emotional distress. It is especially devastating when paralysis is caused by negligence. Whether it was caused by a severe accident or a medical professional's negligence, your family does not deserve to go through the legal process alone.

Our firm is dedicated to helping people who suffered severe injuries due to someone else’s negligence. For almost 40 years, attorney Chris Mellino has helped dozens of families recover compensation for their injuries. Our firm takes pride in never leaving any stone unturned in any case. Our unique attention to detail in each and every case gives our clients better results.

We encourage you to contact our office if you or a loved one was paralyzed due to someone else's negligence. Please call our office at (440) 333-3800 or fill out our contact form and we will reach out to you.