Paralysis refers to temporary or permanent loss of voluntary muscle movement in a body part or region.
People can experience localized, generalized, partial, or complete paralysis.
In this article, learn more about the types of paralysis, their causes, and the support that may be available.
aralysis is the loss of voluntary muscle function in one or more parts of the body as a result of damage to the nervous system.
The nervous system has two parts:
• The central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord.
• The peripheral nervous system (PNS), which contains the nerves outside of the CNS
The nerve cells, or neurons, in the PNS serve several functions.
Motor neurons, for instance, regulate muscle movement. Sensory neurons send information — about pressure, pain, and temperature, for example — to the CNS.

Types of Paralysis

Doctors classify paralysis based on the following characteristics:
The degree of muscle function loss determines the severity of paralysis.
Partial paralysis, or paresis, causes significant muscle weakness and impaired movement. However, people with paresis retain a small degree of control over the affected muscles.
Complete paralysis occurs when a person cannot move the affected body part.
Duration refers to how long the paralysis lasts.
Some medical conditions, such as sleep paralysis, stroke, and Bell’s palsy, can cause temporary paralysis. Over time, people can regain partial or complete control over the affected muscles.
Other conditions that can cause the problem temporarily include hyperkalemic or hypokalemic periodic paralysis. They occur as a result of mutations that affect the CACNA1S or SCN4Agenes.
These genes carry instructions for making proteins that transport sodium and calcium ions into and out of muscle cells. The flow of ions within muscle cells helps produce muscle contractions and movement.
Disruptions in the ion flow can lead to periodic episodes of muscle weakness and paralysis.
Meanwhile, severe head or neck injuries and neuromuscular disorders can lead to permanent paralysis.
Localized paralysis affects a small area of the body, such as the face, hands, or feet.
Generalized paralysis affects a larger area, including multiple parts of the body.

• Monoplegia: This affects one area, such as one arm or leg.
• Hemiplegia: This affects one arm and one leg on the same side of the body.
• Paraplegia: Also called lower body paralysis, this affects both legs and sometimes the hips and organs in the lower abdomen.
• Quadriplegia: This affects both arms and legs, and sometimes muscles in the trunk, the functions of internal organs, or both.

Causes of Paralysis

• Stroke
• Spinal cord injury
• Cerebral palsy
• Multiple sclerosis
Muscle weakness and paralysis result from damage to the nervous system, which any of the health problems above can cause.
A healthy nervous system sends information back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body. Signals from the brain travel down the spinal cord and into the peripheral nerves throughout the body.
The peripheral nerves regulate numerous functions, including:
• automatic functions, such as breathing and digestion
• voluntary muscle movements, such as walking and chewing
• sensory functions, such as pain, temperature, and pressure detection
Damage to any part of the nervous system can have severe effects on a person’s overall health and quality of life.
Some other possible causes of nervous system damage and resulting muscle weakness or paralysis include:
• brain or spinal cord tumors
• infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and polio
• spina bifida, or the incomplete development of the brain, spine, or spinal cord
• motor neuron diseases, such as ALS and primary lateral sclerosis
• autoimmune diseases, including Guillain-Barré syndrome and lupus
• Multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis or hypokalemic periodic paralysis can cause periodic weakness in the face, legs or arms.
• Sleep paralysis can cause a temporary inability to move while waking up or falling asleep.
• Bell’s palsy can cause sudden weakness in one side of the face.
Apart from these, there are other reasons for paralysis attacks.
• A brain tumour can cause gradual weakness on one side of the body.
• Motor neurone disease, spinal muscular atrophy or Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, which can cause paralysis in the arms and legs.
• Guillain-Barre syndrome can cause paralysis in the legs, which can also spread to the face and arms within a few days.
• Spina bifida cerebral palsy is a paralysis that is prevalent from birth.
• Post-polio syndrome can result in paralysis many years after a polio infection.
• Hereditary spastic paraplegia or Friedreich’s ataxia can cause gradual weakness in the legs, which is also one of the symptoms of paralysis in the legs. Melanoma, a tumour on the nerve, head and neck, can cause gradual weakness in parts of the face.
• Inherited disorders, including spinal muscular atrophy and hypo- or hyperkalemic partial paralysis


Currently, no cure for paralysis exists. However, depending on the cause and type of the issue, some people experience partial or complete recovery. Temporary paralysis, such as that caused by Bell’s palsy or stroke, may resolve on its own without medical treatment. Also, when paralysis results from a spinal cord injury or chronic neurological condition, a person may recover partial muscle control.
Although rehabilitation does not cure paralysis completely, it can help prevent symptoms from worsening.
Exercise and Physiotherapy:
With exercise and physiotherapy, paralysis can be cured to some extent. This method of treatment provides effective results for patients suffering from partial or complete paralysis (in hands or legs). In addition, sometimes exercise helps patients get cured and recover sensation and motor functions in one or two affected body parts.
Mobility Aids:
The advancement in medical technology enables patients to get several supporting mobility aids. For example, patients who have partial paralysis in the lower body part (i.e. legs) and have perfectly fine upper body parts can use mobility aids such as a manual wheelchair for short-distance commuting.
On the other hand, patients who have partial paralysis in the lower part and have less strength in the upper body part can use an electric wheelchair.

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