TREATMENT OF HEMIPLEGIA
What is hemiplegia?
Hemiplegia is a condition caused by brain damage or spinal cord injury that leads to paralysis on one side of the body. This symptom is often a key indicator of a stroke which leads to paralysis. The patient however can’t move or control the muscles in the affected body part. This can cause the muscles to be completely limp and can also cause spastic hemiplegia, a type of paralysis whereby muscles contract uncontrollably.
Some other effects of hemiplegia are weakness, problems with muscle control, and muscle stiffness. The degree of hemiplegia symptoms varies depending on the location and extent of the injury.
If hemiplegia begins before birth, during birth, or within the first 2 years of life, it’s known as congenital hemiplegia. If it develops later in life, it’s known as acquired hemiplegia. Hemiplegia is non-progressive; so, once the disorder begins, symptoms don’t get worse.
Hemiplegia is treatable, but depends on how and why it happens. In some cases, no treatment is necessary.
To recognize the symptoms of a stroke, remember to think FAST:
- F is for face. Ask the person to smile. Look for a droop on one or both sides of their face, which is a sign of paralysis (facial hemiplegia) or muscle weakness.
- A is for arm. A person having a stroke often has muscle weakness or paralysis on one side. Ask them to raise their arms. If they have new one-sided weakness or paralysis, one arm will stay higher while the other will sag and drop downward, or won’t raise up at all.
- S is for speech. Strokes often cause a person to lose their ability to speak. They might slur their speech or have trouble choosing the right words.
- T is for time. Time is critical, so don’t wait to get help! If possible, look at your watch or a clock and remember when symptoms start. Telling a healthcare provider about when the symptoms started can help them know what treatment options are best.
Conditions that cause hemiplegia
There are dozens of conditions and circumstances that can cause hemiplegia. Some of the most common causes include:
- Strokes or Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs).
- Aneurysms and hemorrhages inside of the brain.
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Injuries you experience during birth or very early childhood, causing conditions like hemiplegic cerebral palsy.
- Congenital conditions (which you have when you’re born) such as alternating hemiplegia of childhood.
- Facial paralysis conditions like Bell’s palsy.
- Seizures and epilepsy.
- Bleeding in between your brain and its outer layers (subdural hematomas or subarachnoid hemorrhages) or between your skull and your brain’s outer membrane (epidural hematomas).
- Brain tumors (including cancers).
- Nervous system diseases, especially autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).
- Infections that affect your nervous system, like encephalitis, meningitis or Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
- Migraine headaches (when these involve hemiplegia, they’re known as hemiplegic migraines).
One cannot predict when hemiplegia would happen, but there are some measures you can observe to try and avoid it happening. Some steps you can take include:
- Eat a balanced diet and maintain a weight that’s healthy for you. Many conditions related to your circulatory and heart health, especially stroke, can cause brain damage that leads to hemiplegia. Preventing stroke and similar conditions is a key way to reduce your risk of developing hemiplegia.
- Manage your health conditions. Chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and epilepsy can raise your risk for conditions or injuries that could cause hemiplegia. Managing these conditions is essential to lowering your risk of developing this symptom. Managing conditions that can cause incremental damage to your brain or spinal cord over time, such as multiple sclerosis, is also crucial.
- Don’t ignore infections. Infections, especially ones that affect your eyes and ears, can cause hemiplegia if they spread to your brain. Getting prompt treatment for infections — and then following treatment guidelines as closely as possible — can reduce your risk of this happening.
- Wear safety equipment. Protective gear, especially helmets and safety restraints (such as seat belts), can help you avoid head, neck and back injuries that could lead to hemiplegia.
TREATMENT OF HEMIPLEGIA
While hemiplegia can be treated, its treatment depends on the cause and in some other cases, it may get better on their own.
Unfortunately, many of these conditions cause permanent damage to parts of your nervous system, such as spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. In these cases, the hemiplegia won’t go away, although it may improve to some degree.
Some treatment of hemiplegia
When hemiplegia isn’t temporary, healthcare providers often recommend rehabilitation in addition to other treatments. Rehabilitation generally includes:
- Physiotherapy: Focused on leg function, standing, walking and balance. This is our major area at Effective physiotherapy and Fitness clini
- Occupational therapy: Focused on arm/hand function and other activities of daily life.
- Prescription of equipment, to enhance safety and the ability to function inside and outside of your home.
- Managing symptoms associated with hemiplegia, such as spasticity and depression.
- Guidance and resources to address the consequences of hemiplegia, for example, returning to work or applying for disability benefits.
There’s ample evidence that exercise helps optimize health and the ability to function after hemiplegia. Exercising may be more challenging with hemiplegia. This is why we at Effective Physiotherapy & Fitness Clinic have develop exercise programs and wellness packages that adapt to a person’s needs and abilities.
For Enquiries or more information call Effective Physiotherapy Clinic, No 2 D Ajumgobia Close, Kado Estate, Abuja. 0803 4365 055, 0909 860 4470