Hemiplegia Definition

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Hemiplegia is the paralysis of the muscles of the lower face, arm, and leg on one side of the body. Hemiplegia and hemiparesis is the weakness of half of the body i.e. one entire side of the body. In its most severe form hemiplegia leads to the paralysis of half portion of the body that is affected by a disease. Hemiplegia and hemiparesis can arise from many different medical conditions which can be congenital in nature, due to a trauma, or any tumours. But the most common reason for hemiplegia is stroke which causes damage to the corticospinal tracts in one of the atmosphere of the brain.

Hemiplegia Causes

The hemiplegia meaning or hemiplegia definition clearly states that the condition is a paralytic condition with partial or complete physical activity of half of the body. The primary cause of the condition is stroke which can damage the corticospinal tracts portion in one of the hemispheres of the brain. These tracts usually extend from the lower spinal cord to the cerebral cortex. There is a cross-connection between the part of the body controlled by the brain and the hemisphere in which the corticospinal tracts are present. Hence, when the damage is caused to the right hemisphere of the brain, the left half of the body gets affected resulting in left hemiplegia and when the damage is caused to the left hemisphere of the brain, the right half of the body gets affected resulting in right hemiplegia. Hence, this condition is also known as contralateral hemiplegia or contralateral hemiparesis.

Thus any damage to the brain like tumours and infections or damage to the spinal cord can lead to hemiplegia and hemiparesis. Certain brain damages that occur during the intrauterine life and the delivery or in early stages of life can result in hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Although rare, there are cases of hemiplegia due to genetic mutations. For example, a very rare mutation in the ATP1A3 gene can cause a condition called alternating hemiplegia, also known as crossed hemiplegia in children. Crossed hemiplegia is the condition when the condition comes and goes. As stated, the crossed hemiplegia is so rare a condition that it affects 1 person in 1 million people.

The effects laid down in the condition of hemiplegia definition can be also seen in premature babies than the term babies. There have been high incidences of hemiplegia during the pregnancy due to conditions of traumatic pregnancy, use of forceps or any of the events that can lead to the actualization of hemiplegia meaning. Other causes of the condition include trauma, bleeding, brain infections, and cancers. Persons having uncontrolled diabetes, and hypertension can also lead to hemiplegia. Many cases are also due to habits that involve smoking, which can increase the chances of stroke and lead to the condition. Weakness on one side can also occur due to viral infection or cancer. There are also certain cases in which the patients suffer from spastic hemiplegia in which the muscles remain in a constant state of contraction.


Types of Hemiplegia and Mechanism

Many different types of hemiplegia have already been stated in the above text. Some of them can be listed below as follows:

  • Facial Hemiplegia: When the muscles of the face are paralysed on one side of the face it is known as facial hemiplegia. This can also occur along with minor paralysis on the rest of the body parts.

  • Spinal Hemiplegia: When there is damage to the spinal cord on one side of the body, it results in paralysis of the same side of the body, it is known as spinal hemiplegia. There is loss of pain and temperature sensation on the opposite side of the body as well. 

  • Contralateral Hemiplegia: This condition arises when there is damage to one hemisphere of the brain and it results in the paralysis of the opposite half of the body. 

  • Spastic Hemiplegia: Spastic hemiplegia is a condition when there is a continuous contraction in the muscles of the body. It is a disease caused due to damage to the neuromuscular network of cells.  

As is visible, depending on the type of hemiplegia diagnosed, different body functions are affected. Some of the effects of the condition due to the damage are to be expected like partial paralysis while other ailments even though at first might appear to be non-related to any weakness in the limb can be the direct result of the damage to any side of the brain. 

Hemiplegia Treatment

The treatment options of hemiplegia are usually dependent on the cause leading to the condition. It is also related to the severity of the condition. The treatment procedure usually involves a clubbing of various treatments such as a combination involving physiotherapists, rehabilitation therapists, and also mental health professionals. The main purpose of the treatment of hemiplegia is the recovery of motor skills and motor function. When the case is of neurological damage surgery may be used to correct the condition. The treatment of both hemiplegia and hemiparesis is similar and focuses on the treatment of brain or nervous system damage which can resolve the issue of motor skills of muscles in the affected parts of the body. 

Some of the Most Common Treatment Practices are Mentioned and Explained Below:

  • Medication: This practice involves the use of drugs containing lithium or valium which can be used as a relaxant. They are used to solve the issues related to motor neurons. 

  • Physiotherapy: This type of treatment is for the development of balance ability, building strength, and coordinating movements. Such a therapist can help in stretching out the tight and spastic muscles. An example of such a treatment is mirror therapy when the person is made to feel as if the affected part is fine and thus helping out in treating the damage. 

  • Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy: It appears in normal form and modified form. Constraint-induced movement therapy involves the restrainment of the mobile part of the body. By doing so, there is no other option but to try and move the weaker section of the body. This helps in forcing the muscles in the weaker sections and it acts for compensating the mobility. 

  • Electrical Stimulation: In the presence of a medical professional, electrical stimulation helps in the muscular movement by the electrical pads. When this happens, the electricity allows the muscles that have been affected for motor ability by improving the brain plasticity. 

Hemiplegia is a condition in which the improvement can be achieved through the above-mentioned treatments and can only be improved when the main cause of the damage such as stroke is treated. Apart from this, there is no definite cure for the disease. Also, it is a non-progressive disease i.e. the condition does not worsen with time.  Hence, it may or may not be a permanent condition. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Causes Hemiplegia?

Ans: Hemiplegia is a condition of the weakness of some part of the body or half of the body when there is damage to the brain due to some conditions such as stroke. Stroke is the most common cause that leads to brain damage and can lead to hemiplegia. It may also arise due to trauma or tumours to the brain or the neurological network of the body. 

2. What is the Difference Between Hemiplegia and Hemiparesis?

Ans: Hemiparesis is a condition that results in slight weakness such as mild loss of strength, either in any part of the body or half part of the body. Hemiplegia, on the other hand, is the condition when a part of the body or half portion of the body is paralysed. Thus, hemiplegia is a severe condition of hemiparesis. Both conditions arise when there is damage caused to the brain and the nervous system.