The incidence of mental retardation is higher for children with quadriplegia, but it is important to have the child evaluated at the appropriate age by a professional because what may seem like mental retardation may have more to do with the childs difficulties in communicating due to their motor impairment than it does with their intelligence.
Sometimes severe diplegia is mistaken for mild quadriplegia since it is not unusual for a child with diplegia to have some involvement with their arms. There can be disagreement even among specialist as to the proper diagnosis because of the overlap in terms.
There are different kinds of quadriplegia and they very in severity. A child with moderate spastic quadriplegia sits well, may be able to walk for short distance using a walker, can lift himself into a wheelchair by himself or assist in the transfer, and may have sufficient hand control to feed himself. A child with severe spastic quadriplegia will not be able to walk even with a walker or other form of assistance, can not move independently into a wheelchair, will have difficulty sitting , and usually is not capable of feeding himself.
Because the quadriplegic child may have difficulties with eating, nutrition is very important to ensure that the child is getting enough nourishment to thrive, to give her body the nutrients needed for bone, muscle, brain and other tissue growth. If they child is not growing properly, their brain is probably also not getting what it needs for growth and development.
A description of children with the primarily athetoid pattern of quadriplegia can be found in the page on athetosis even though it is common for there to be overlap in muscular
Infants who have certain kinds of problems early on in life are at a higher risk for eventually being diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegia. Later motor dysfunction may arise as a result of drug use or complications during the mothers pregnancy, the infants delivery or the early development of the infant. The complications include prematurity, low birthweight, bleeding in the brain, severe asphyxiation, aspiration (fluid in the lungs), severe meningitis, shaken baby syndrome and drug overdose. Certainly not all children who survive these types of complications are later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, but it is fair to say that those children who do have severe spastic Cerebral Palsy often have had a history that includes these risk factors.