Paralysis

An Overview

Paralysis is the loss or impairment of voluntary muscular power. Paralysis can result from either diseases involving changes in the makeup of nervous or muscular tissue or those that are the result of metabolic disturbances that interfere with the function of nerves or muscles. Depending upon the cause, paralysis may affect a specific. Paralysis can affect either one or both sides of the human body. In some cases, just one area of your body gets affected, while in some other cases it can be widespread.

When paralysis hits the lower half of the human body, such as both legs, it is referred to as paraplegia. When paralysis hits arms as well as legs, it is referred to as quadriplegia. Paralysis may occur due to various reasons ranging from old age, to accidents or people with problems of hypertension and high blood pressure. It comes in many different forms and can be temporary or permanent or even come and go. Someone who is paralyzed because of a birth defect or sudden injury often can’t feel or move anything at all in their affected body parts. Nerve diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Autoimmune diseases like Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Types of Paralysis

Complete paralysis is when you can’t move or control your paralyzed muscles at all. You also may not be able to feel anything in those muscles.
Diplegia affects the same area on both sides of the body, such as both arms and both sides of the face.
Partial or incomplete paralysis is is when you still have some feeling in, and possibly control over, your paralyzed muscles. This is sometimes called paresis.
Localized paralysis affects just one specific area, like your face, hands, feet or vocal cords.
Generalized paralysis is more widespread in your body and is grouped by how much of your body is affected. The type usually depends on where your brain or spinal cord is injured.

Causes for Paralysis

Paralysis is caused by multiple conditions, which may be classified as those which affect the muscles themselves, and those which act indirectly, through the nerves that control muscle action. Paralysis is usually caused due to damage in the nervous system, particularly spinal cord. In most cases, people get paralysis as the result of an accident or a medical condition that affects the way muscles and nerves function. The most common causes of paralysis include:

  • Head injury.
  • Myopathy following alcohol abuse.
  • Stroke.
  • Post-viral myositis.
  •  Multiple sclerosis.
  • Congenital diseases, mostly genetic, that cause muscle impairment, such as muscular dystrophy.
  • Spinal cord injury.
  • Inflammatory or autoimmune conditions of muscle inflammation, such as dermatomyositis and polymyositis.
  • Drug-induced myopathy, as following statin or steroid treatment.
  • Muscular Dystrophy.
  • Neuropathy.
  • Neurological causes may be due to disease, toxicity, or injury to one or more nerves.
  • Focal nerve injury causes paralysis of the muscle supplied by that nerve.

Peripheral neuropathy is seen in conditions like:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Toxins/poisons
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Diphtheria
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Snake bite

Other key triggering factors of paralysis are stroke, poliomyelitis, and trauma along with nerve injury, cerebral palsy, ALS, peripheral neuropathy, Guillain–Barré syndrome, botulism, Parkinson’s disease, spina bifida and multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms for Paralysis

A person who becomes paralyzed due to a medical condition might lose muscle control and feeling slowly. The person might feel tingling or numbing sensations or muscle cramps before losing control of his or her muscles. Before it traps your body, you will feel a numbing or tingling sensation in the body. You will also not be able to keep control over your muscles completely or partially if you suffer from paralysis.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Clumsiness and numbness
  • A Severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Cognitive difficulties, difficulty writing or speaking
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss or changes in vision and/or hearing
  • Nausea with or without vomiting

Diagnosis

The doctor is able to diagnose paralysis in few simple steps. There are variations in level of consciousness in the body. You feel confused and dizzy. The body loses coordination. There is change in the vision.

  • X-ray: This test uses small amounts of radiation to produce detailed images of the dense structures inside the body, such as the bones.
  • CT scan: CT uses computers to combine many X-ray images into cross-sectional views of the inside of the body.
  • MRI: MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to create clear images of the body.
  • Myelography: This test uses a contrast dye that is injected into the spinal canal to make the nerves show up very clearly on an X-ray, CT scan or MRI.
  • Imaging scans, CT scans and blood tests
  • Electromyography (EMG): This test is used to measure the electrical activity in the muscles and nerves.
  • Spinal tap: A long needle is injected into the spine to collect spinal fluid.

Treatment

Physical therapy is used to treat paralysis usually. Treatments such as heat massage, physiotherapy and exercise are done to stimulate the nerves and muscles. Functional Electrical stimulation is used in some cases to offer help to the patient.

  • Passive Paralysis Exercises. The best chance at regaining mobility after paralysis is to practice passive exercises.
  • Mental Practice. The advantage of mental practice is that it’s accessible for paralyzed individuals.
  • Oxygen Therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
  • Magnetic Brain Stimulation. Magnetic brain.
  • Physical therapy uses treatments such as heat, massage and physical therapy.
  • Occupational therapy.
  •  Mobility devices, such as braces, walkers and wheelchairs.
  • Medications.
  • Surgical amputation.
  • Nerve transfer surgery.
  • To stimulate nerves and muscles.
  • Occupational therapy concentrates on ways to perform activities of daily living.
  • Mobility aids include manual and electric wheelchairs and scooters.

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