Paralysis is a loss of involuntary muscle functions which occurs in one or multiple muscles. The disorder is often associated with loss of strength or control in the muscles or group of muscles in the body.
The movement of the muscles is regulated by the signals received from the brain. When any damage happens in the brain or nerve or in case of a spinal cord injury, the signals do not get carried to the muscles resulting in paralysis.
Paralysis may occur due to a birth defect condition called Spina defia which results in deformity in the structure of the spinal cord and brain. In most cases, paralysis occurs due to accidents or medical conditions that disturb the muscles. Other causes of paralysis include stroke, spinal cord injury, head injury and multiple sclerosis. Also Read: Multiple Sclerosis: What Is It?
Common symptoms of paralysis include the inability to move a particular region of the body or unable to move the whole body.
Generally, paralysis can occur in a specific location in the body. Localized paralysis mostly affects – face, hands, feet or vocal cords. However, paralysis depends on how severe a particular part of the body is affected:
Monoplegia affects one limb either one arm or leg
Hemiplegia affects one side of the body which include leg and arm of the same side
Diplegia affects both sides of the body -both arms or face
Paraplegia affects both legs and very rare case trunk
Quadriplegia affects both upper and lower extremities which impedes the functioning of the heart, lungs and other vital organs.
Paralysis is associated with other problem that interferes with normal activity such as:
Improper blood flow, breathing difficulty, and irregular heart rate and heart rhythm
Disturbance in the normal function of organs and tissues
Affects the functioning of muscles, joints, and bones, such as in spinal stenosis
Leads to pressure ulcers and skin sores
Causes severe muscle injury
Incontinence and loss of bowel control
Dysphagia and troubled speaking
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Paralysis is usually easy to diagnose as the main symptoms of this condition is the loss of muscle control in the body part. The main role of the diagnose is to identify the cause and degree of paralysis and the doctor may suggest further tests like X-ray, CT scan, MRI, EMG and spine tap test to determine the root cause of paralysis.
There is no complete cure for paralysis, but in a few cases, some or all of the muscle control and sensation becomes normal on its own or depending on the treatment for underlying causes for paralysis. For instance, in Bell’s palsy -temporary paralysis of the face becomes normal spontaneously. However proper treatment is necessary to avert further aggravation of the condition.
Rehabilitation is generally recommended to treat the damages that happens as a result of the paralysis which aims to improve the quality of life of the patient and enables a person to lead an independent life at the earliest. Some of the rehabilitation treatment include:
Physical therapy and exercise to enhance the function of nerves and muscles
Occupational therapy aims to improve the routine activities
Mobility supports are given like wheelchairs and scooters
Supportive equipment’s like braces, walkers and canes