Date of Award


Document Type

Critically Appraised Topic


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne Haskins

Second Advisor

Breann Lamborn

Third Advisor

Gail Bass/Devon Olson Lambert


Tetraplegia (otherwise known as quadriplegia) is a common impairment treated by occupational therapy. It is defined as the impairment or loss of motor and/or sensory function of upper extremities (UEs), lower extremities (LEs), and trunk as a result of damage to the cervical segments of the spinal cord (Atrice et al., 2020). Damage to the vertebrae or spinal cord can result in spinal cord injury (SCI). The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) (2020) indicated the prevalence of spinal cord injuries in the United States is approximately 294,000 people. Average age of injury has reportedly increased from 29 to 43 years of age since the 1970’s, and approximately 78% of new spinal cord injury cases are male. The most common cause of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents closely followed by falls. Incomplete tetraplegia, when there is some motor or sensory function below the level of injury, is the most frequent category of injury at approximately 47.2% of cases (Bautista & Grossman, 2014; NSCISC, 2020).