Some of you would be coming across the word ‘Hemiplegia’ for the first time though you might know what it stands for. One might not be familiar with the technical term for one-sided paralysis. Paralysis is a medical condition that causes muscle function in any part of the body to deteriorate. It can arise either on one side of the body or on both sides, depending on the causes.
But then, what is hemiplegia? Hemiplegia is a medical condition that concerns one side of the body getting paralyzed. Let’s discuss hemiplegia, its causes, and treatment.
What Does Hemiplegia Mean?
Hemiplegia is one-sided paralysis that may indicate extreme or life-threatening medical conditions like stroke. It can also be less severe, but the symptoms can change from person to person. Hemiplegia can paralyze your body’s right side (right hemiplegia) or left side (left hemiplegia). In some cases, the severity of the condition is entirely reversible with immediate medical attention; in other cases, the symptoms can be subdued. A brain or spinal cord injury or other conditions can leave one to be temporarily or permanently paralyzed.
The typical signs of hemiplegia are limited control over the muscles and muscle feebleness. Paralysis indicates your inability to move or handle the muscle movements in the affected part of the body. The muscles may turn completely limp, causing the person to be unable to walk or move. It can also lead to spastic hemiplegia. Hemiplegia mainly affects three body parts: the face, arm, and leg, on one side. In rare cases, the paralysis may come and go; in other cases, it may be permanent.
Remember to check the following body parts if you are attending to a person possibly affected with hemiplegia:
- Face. Request the person to smile or make other movements. Facial hemiplegia is likely if the person cannot move or the features droop on one or both sides.
- Arm. Request the person to lift both arms. If one arm sags and falls, there is a chance of one-sided paralysis. If both arms are not raising or are immovable, there is a chance of paralysis.
- Speech. If a person has lost their ability to speak or seems unconscious, there is a chance that they may be suffering from a stroke. Slurred speech or loss of vision are some of its symptoms.
Make sure to note the time you witnessed the symptoms, which may help a healthcare provider to provide the proper diagnosis and treatment.
What Is Spastic Hemiplegia?
Spastic hemiplegia is a medical condition where the region of the brain that controls movement is impaired. Spastic hemiplegia can affect children before birth or during their growth and development stage, which is called cerebral palsy. A cerebral palsy may make it difficult for children to do simple tasks like walking or holding an object. Some children with cerebral palsy may also develop attention deficit disorders or epilepsy.
What Causes Spastic Hemiplegia?
In most cases, an injury to the brain is the leading cause of Spastic Hemiplegia. The injury may affect the brain’s motor cortex or the pyramidal tracts. The consequent medical condition differs depending on the damaged part of the brain.
The motor cortex is the significant brain part in the cerebral region. This part is responsible for controlling movement. The sub-parts that are many send necessary signals to each other. A person with spastic hemiplegia will have an impaired motor cortex and will have trouble controlling movements.
Pyramidal tracts form the connection between the cerebral cortex and the spinal cord. Certain fundamental functions for touch and movement are impacted when the connection is impaired.
Some factors that cause impairments to these parts of the brain are:
- Prenatal brain damage or hemorrhage
- Other types of brain disease from birth
- Shortage of oxygen supply to the brain
Symptoms of Hemiplegia
The main symptom of spastic hemiplegia is one of the body’s sides getting paralyzed. Other symptoms can be:
- Stiff muscles on one side
- Exaggerated body actions
- Joints that function properly
- Poor reflexes
- Crossed knees
Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
Treatment options for cerebral palsy majorly depend on the symptoms of hemiplegia. Following are some of the options that the doctor may advise :
- Physical therapy. Doctors may recommend physical therapy that involves stretching stiff muscles to make them more flexible and improve the chances of movement.
- Speech therapy. A person or child with spastic hemiplegia may drool or have trouble speaking. Speech therapy incorporates exercises that improve a child’s speech, breathing, chewing, and swallowing.
Doctors also prescribe medicines and remedies to relieve muscle stiffness and reduce seizures. In other cases, they recommend surgery for treating dislocated joints or muscles that come with spastic hemiplegia. For example, selective dorsal rhizotomy is a joint surgery to enhance movement and lessen muscle stiffness. The surgery can help fix malfunctions affecting the child’s movements and activity.
Care and Treatment
The treatments for hemiplegia are different for different causes. Doctors may consider your specific condition, medical history, and more to conclude the best treatment.
Although you should follow some steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you should never try to self-treat the symptoms of hemiplegia as it is a life-threatening medical condition. Some steps you can take to prevent the condition include:
- Eat a well-balanced diet and
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage your existing health conditions.
- Treat infections immediately.
- Wear safety equipment while driving (such as helmet and seat belts)
What’s the difference between hemiplegia and hemiparesis?
Hemiplegia is an alarming symptom that can cause sudden paralysis on the whole side — left or right — of the body. Hemiplegia and hemiparesis are almost the same, with the feeling of weakness on one side of your body. Though the same conditions and injuries cause them, hemiplegia is complete paralysis, and hemiparesis is a partial weakness. The leading cause is that stroke is reversible if attended by healthcare immediately.
Hemiplegia: Treating It Early
Remember that following a healthy lifestyle is essential; never ignore any symptoms and brush them away as nothing serious. Consult a good physician or a healthcare expert before concluding on a possible medical condition by yourself.