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Definition

What is hemiplegia?

Hemiplegia, also called hemiparesis, is a weakness condition affecting one side of the body. It could be the right or left hemiplegia, depending on the side affected. General, where your stroke occurred in the brain will determine the part of your body experience weakness.

Injury to the left brain will cause the right hemiplegia and otherwise. When the patient has hemiplegia, they still move the affected side of the body; however, with reduced muscular strength or in some cases, they are unable to move.

  • Congenital hemiplegia is the injured brain that happens before, during or soon after birth.
  • Acquired hemiplegia happens in later life as a result of injury or illness.

One sided weakness can affect your arms, hands, legs, and facial muscles. In this case, you may have trouble performing everyday activities such as eating, dressing, and using the bathroom. Rehabilitation treatments, exercises at home, and assistive devices can help with your mobility and recovery.

How common is hemiplegia?

This health condition is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of hemiplegia?

The common symptoms of hemiplegia are:

  • Loss of balance;
  • Difficulty walking;
  • Difficulty in swallowing;
  • Difficult speaking;
  • Numbness, tingling or loss of sensations on one half of the body;
  • Impaired ability to grasp objects;
  • Decrease in movement precision;
  • Muscle fatigue;
  • Lack of coordination.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes hemiplegia?

The main causes of hemiplegia are brain hemorrhage (hemorrhagic stroke), diseases of the blood vessels of the cerebrum, and brain stem that cause interruption of blood supply to the brain (ischemic stroke).

Trauma (brain injury) is another cause of hemiplegia. Other important causes that are less acute in onset include brain tumor or lesion, brain abscess, diseases that destroy the sheath surrounding nerve cells (e.g., multiple sclerosis), blood vessel (vascular) complications of viral or bacterial infection (meningitis), and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).

When a brain lesion causes hemiplegia, the lesion is most likely on the side of the brain opposite to the paralysis. In rare cases, it results from infectious disease caused by the poliovirus (poliomyelitis) or a disorder of motor nerve cells (neurons) in the spinal cord, brainstem, and motor cortex (motor system disease).

Risk factors

What increases my risk for hemiplegia?

There are many risk factors for hemiplegia, such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Birth trauma.
  • Difficult labor.
  • Perinatal strokes in infants.
  • Traumatic head injury.
  • Migraine syndrome.
  • Diabetes.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Infections, particularly encephalitis and meningitis. Some serious infections, particularly sepsis and abscesses in the neck, may spread to the brain if left untreated.
  • Leukodystrophies.
  • Vasculitis.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hemiplegia diagnosed?

Doctor might ask about your history and do the physical exam.  Muscle weakness is evaluated during the physical and neurological examination. Identifying the pattern of muscle weakness or paralysis can help the physician identify where the damage has occurred in the nervous system.

Doctors may want a few procedures done to find the cause of hemiplegia. Some required tests are:

  • Complete blood count;
  • Blood biochemistry test;
  • Cranial computerized tomography;
  • Cranial magnetic resonance imaging;
  • An EEG (electroencephalogram).

How is hemiplegia treated?

Hemiplegia usually takes a while to recover. There’s no single treatment approach that works for all people. Instead, treatment is largely dependent on the cause of hemiplegia. Some treatment options include:

  • Medication to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels may be used in individuals with hemiplegia.
  • Blood thinners to reduce cardiovascular blockages and decrease the chances of future strokes.
  • Antibiotics, usually delivered intravenously, to combat brain infections.
  • Surgery to remove swelling on the brain or objects lodged in the brain.
  • Muscle relaxant drugs.
  • Surgery to address secondary issues, particularly involuntary muscle contractions, spinal damage, or damage to the ligaments or tendons on the unaffected side of the body.
  • Physical therapy designed to help the brain work around the injuries. It can also strengthen the unaffected side and help you reduce the loss of muscle control and tone.
  • Support groups, family education, and advocacy.
  • Psychotherapy to help you deal with the psychological effects of the disease.
  • Physical therapy to help you remain healthy in spite of your disability.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hemiplegia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with health condition:

  • Remaining active.
  • Strengthening leg muscles and balance through exercises.
  • Wearing flat, wide-toed shoes.
  • Using a prescribed assistive device and not relying on furniture for support while walking.
  • Taking precautions when taking medications that cause drowsiness.
  • Paying close attention while walking.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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