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Caring for a quadriplegic family member can be challenging physically and emotionally. Quadriplegia, sometimes known as tetraplegia, is when both legs and both arms are paralyzed.
Quadriplegia and paraplegia are usually a result of a spinal cord injury but can sometimes be caused by nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Most individuals have a difficult time dealing with these physical challenges. Here are a few tips that can help to make the process easier.
The physical challenge of providing care to a quadriplegic is obvious. They must be lifted and turned over often so that they don't lie on the same body part for too long. This helps to eliminate bedsores or at least keep them at a minimum.
If they do develop and are not properly treated, they can become ulcerated and dangerous. The patient also has to be lifted and rolled over at bath time and they have to be sat upright to eat.
A hospital bed will be very useful in providing care for these types of patients and it will also be more comfortable from them.
When the time comes, the patient will have to be transferred to a wheelchair so that the bed sheets can be changed. Female caregivers might find the heavy lifting more challenging.
This is a good technique to use:
- Lock the wheels on the chair and be sure it is positioned next to you with enough room swing the patient into it
- Sit the patient up with legs over the bed and have them face you
- Position your kneed on the outside of the patient's knees, towards the front
- Place your arms underneath the patient's armpits
- Lift them up and to you, then turn them towards the wheelchair
- Slowly lower them into the wheelchair and always be sure that the head and neck are properly supported.
Neck and leg braces are very useful when doing a transfer.
Even though you are doing the day to day care of the paraplegia or quadriplegia patient, you should only do so under the care of a qualified specialist. They can help you with care giving suggestions.
The emotional part of caring for a quadriplegic family member can be more overwhelming than the physical part. It is heartbreaking to see a loved one in this state and you have to be strong emotionally and physically to handle the situation.
Support groups can be a good place to get strength and learn from those who are experiencing the same problem.
There might come a point where you the care giver cannot provide the care the patient needs, especially if they develop problems breathing. At this stage the patient will need professional full time care.
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