I am all for raising awareness and understanding of spinal cord injuries. I was asked again earlier this week (and not for the first time) 'what is the difference between tetraplegic and quadriplegic?'
The answer is that 'tetraplegic' is the correct way to describe paralysis of all four limbs; quadriplegic mixes the Latin word (quadri) with Greek word(plegia).
The www.apparelyzed.com website has much more information on all things spinal cord injury - and interestingly provides further insight on the tetra/quadri question....
"In 1991, when the American Spinal Cord Injury Classification system was being revised, the difference in names was discussed. Upon review of the literature, it was recommended that the term tetraplegia be used by the American Spinal Cord Association so that there are not two different words in English referring to the same thing"
The term "quadriplegic" is derived from two different words from two different languages, Latin and Greek. The word "quadra", when translated from Latin means "four", this relates to the number of limbs. "plegic", is derived from the Greek word "plegia", which when translated, means "paralysis". When the two words are combined together, you have "quadraplegia". "Tetra" is derived from the Greek word for "four". "para" is derived from the Greek word for "two" Hence: tetraplegic and paraplegic. In Europe, the terminology for 4 limb paralysis has always been tetraplegia. The Europeans would never dream of combining a Latin and Greek root in one word.