Paralysis, a condition that affects millions worldwide, is a complex topic that warrants our attention and understanding.
Imagine trying to move your body and failing every time. It hurts right? This feeling of helplessness can only be felt by the one going through it.
But, how does one know that it is paralysis in the first place? Well, there are a number of types of paralysis that can occur to anyone at any point in their life.
So, let’s all explore paralysis, its symptoms, causes, and the treatment options that you can opt for.
What is Paralysis?
Loss of muscle function in the body is referred to as paralysis. Sometimes paralysis is transitory, and occasionally it is permanent. While paralysis can affect any portion of the body, the majority of cases are seen in the limbs. All types of paralysis, both partial and total, can happen at any time.
There is no immediate pain experienced by a patient who is paralyzed.
Experts at Hameed Latif Hospital say that the treatment for paralysis is targeted to either cure the problem or manage its symptoms, allowing patients to keep a reasonably unaffected daily lifestyle, depending on the specifics of the underlying cause.
A stroke is the leading cause of partial or complete paralysis in patients. In partial paralysis, the patient retains partial control over the affected muscle, while in incomplete paralysis, they have no control over the affected muscle tissue. This condition significantly impacts mobility, independence, and overall quality of life.
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Types of Paralysis
Some of the most common types of paralysis are:
- Locked-in Syndrome
Let’s have a look at all of them.
Monoplegia is a form of paralysis in which a person affected by it loses control over one limb. Sometimes it impacts the whole limb and other times, it is just one or two muscles of the limb.
Monoplegia is a common side effect of cerebral palsy. The brain’s capacity to control some of the muscles is lost in cerebral palsy.
The majority of cerebral palsy patients are seen to be young children and teenagers.
Hemiplegia is a type of paralysis in which the person loses control of one side of the body. Its impact is usually seen on one arm or leg and sometimes can be seen in the torso region.
Hemiparesis from all types of paralysis, is a condition characterized by a significant reduction in the strength and endurance of the limbs, without complete loss of functionality.
In some cases, hemiparesis may progress to hemiplegia, where there is complete paralysis on one side of the body. This condition can occur as a result of various factors, such as stroke, brain injury, or certain neurological disorders.
Further, hemiplegia is divided into left and right hemiplegia. The diagnosis of right or left hemiplegia depends on where the injury is located.
Hemiplegic patients can have trouble speaking and resuming their usual motor activities. They experience total or partial loss of sensation in one side of the body and resulting in Pusher’s syndrome, when the patient shifts the weight of the paralyzed side to the normal side, adversely impairing motor functions.
They experience a complete or partial lack of sensation in one side of the body, out of all the types of paralysis.
Paraplegia is a type of paralysis characterized by the loss of muscle control and sensation from the waist down. The extent and effects of paraplegia can vary from person to person.
It is important to note that individuals with paraplegia often have structurally healthy legs, and the underlying cause of this condition typically originates in the brain or spinal cord.
Paraplegia commonly occurs following an injury to the brain, spinal cord, or both.
In paraplegic patients, there is a disruption in the transmission of signals from the brain to the lower body and back.
This lack of communication leads to a loss of motor functions and sensation. The underlying cause of this paralysis out of all the types of paralysis varies, but the outcome is a significant impact on the patient’s ability to move and feel sensations in the lower limbs.
Car accidents, sports-related injuries, side effects of surgeries, spinal cord injuries, violence, and falls are the major causes of paraplegia.
This is the type of paralysis where all four limbs are affected at the same time.
Quadriplegia is a disorder in which the brain’s signals to the regions below the neck are not received, impairing the hands and legs. In order for messages to be sent and received between the brain and the body, the spinal cord is essential.
This crucial communication channel is broken in quadriplegia out of all types of paralysis, which results in the loss of function. The resulting inability to move or feel sensations in both the upper and lower extremities can have a variety of underlying causes.
In addition to fatigue, abrupt spasms, loss of sensation below the neck, trouble urinating, respiratory distress, bedsores, and depression, patients with quadriplegia also encounter numerous adverse effects.
In “Locked-in Syndrome,” the patient is unable to control any area of their body under their eye muscles. Locked-in syndrome is primarily a consequence of serious brain damage, a stroke, or brain cancer.
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A person suffering from locked-in syndrome out of other types of paralysis will not be able to move their lips, their jaw, or side-to-side movements in the neck. However, the only movement that they can make is the movement of their eye and eyeballs.
This disorder develops when the cerebrum and cerebellum, the portions of the brain that regulate awareness and mental function, are unharmed but the middle portion of the brain is damaged or eliminated.
What are Some Major Signs of Paralysis?
A sudden, common side effect of brain or spinal cord injury is paralysis. Paralysis can occasionally also be brought on by a stroke or malignant cells rubbing up against brain cells.
Spasms, lack of sensation in the arms and legs, decreased muscular function, diminished motor function and the inability to speak are the most typical paralysis symptoms.
What Conditions can be Responsible for Paralysis?
Some of the major conditions that can lead to different types of paralysis are:
- Brain injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post-Polio Syndrome
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Spinal tumors
How is Paralysis Treated?
There is obviously no definite cure for paralysis, however, there are a number of paralysis treatments available that can help you manage the symptoms that come with it.
Some of these are discussed below.
Patients suffering from Quadriplegia out of all types of paralysis can utilize voice-command-based systems to control various aspects of their environment, including light, temperature, TV, audio units, and telephones/mobile phones.
In contrast, individuals with locked-in syndrome can benefit from specially adapted computers that enable them to form short sentences or enhance their current communication methods.
These assistive technologies offer valuable support, empowering patients to interact with their surroundings and communicate effectively.
Individuals with partial paralysis in their legs, but good upper body strength, can opt for manual wheelchairs to cover short distances. Those with less upper body strength can benefit from electric wheelchairs for increased mobility.
Moreover, specially-abled individuals can have their cars retrofitted to cater to their needs.
This may involve replacing the accelerator and brake pedals with levers, and customizing the steering wheel for wrist maneuverability, enabling greater independence and ease of driving.
Patients with partial or total paralysis of the hands or legs have had success with frequent physical treatment and exercise. Patients have been seen occasionally successful in regaining feeling and motor function in one of the two affected limbs through exercise.
Suggested Read: Difference between physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Your healthcare provider can give you medication depending on your condition and the type of paralysis that you have. A lot of times medicines are given just to soothe the fatigue that paralysis causes to the body.
In the case of quadriplegia and locked-in syndrome, respiratory distress is often felt. In such conditions, the patients can either choose to rely on non-invasive or invasive ventilators.
When to Visit a Doctor
Now that you are familiar with different types of paralysis and their causes and treatments, you must be aware of how it happens and what its impacts are. If any of your family members go through this painful condition, it is best to opt for the best treatment option for them. You can book your appointment and switch the best physiotherapists near you, by contacting Healthwire.