What is paralysis? Paralysis is a medical condition in which the affected person is unable to move a part or the whole of his or her body. It can be as minimal as being unable to move one part of the body (local paralysis) or as severe as the whole body being affected (quadriplegia). A paralytic stroke can often lead to lifelong physical incapacitation or immobility. It can be caused by a number of reasons; however, accidents like collision, brain tumour and brain stroke are some commonplace causes. The paralysis stroke symptoms can help someone realise the early onset of the problem. We shall discuss the symptoms in the next paragraph.
The paralysis attack symptoms vary from person to person. In some people, the occurrence may be spontaneous; whereas, in others, it may be progressive. For those who have early signs of the onset of the condition, medical help can help them arrest the progress and even reverse it. For the progressive type the symptoms are: (1) Numbness in the face, one or all limbs, one side of body or all over the body, particularly in the affected region; (2) Muscle spasm or flaccidity in the affected area; (3) Loss of balance while walking or standing; (4) Sensory disorientation; and (5) Fainting.
Paralysis can be caused by a number of problems. Some of the commonest problems leading to the paralysis are injury to the central nervous system, i.e., the brain and spinal cord. Problems like stroke and infection that lead to the necrosis of the nerve cells in the brain or spinal cord, too, can lead to partial or complete paralysis. Other known problems are poliomyelitis, Parkinson’s diseases, peripheral neuropathy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, botulism, ALS, multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barré. Basically, any disease, degenerative disorder, genetic condition etc. of the central nervous system can lead to a paralytic stroke resulting in partial or complete, temporary or permanent immobility of the affected person. Besides, some medicines like powerful muscle relaxants and toxins present in nature in the form of venom or poison like tetrodotoxin present in fugu fish and some types of venoms in jellyfish can also lead to paralysis; depending on the level of dosage it can be a temporary or permanent condition.
A partial or complete inability to move the appendages and muscles are the characteristics of paralysis. Sometimes the problem may be temporary. Depending on these characteristics, paralysis is divided into the following:
(1) Partial - Only some muscle groups do not work;
(2) Complete - the whole body is immobile;
(3) Temporary - The condition is medically induced, or affected by neurotoxins by biting of venomous snakes or the sting of jellyfish;
(4) Permanent - Paralysis as an irreversible condition is usually caused by the damage of the nerve cells in the brain or spinal cord;
(5) Flaccid - In this condition, the muscles become flaccid and shrink; and
(6) Spastic - In this condition, the muscles show erratic movements like jerking. These conditions are not totally inter-related; but, they can be used for understanding the severity of the condition.
Depending on the affected regions in the body, the condition can be categorised as follows:
(1) Monoplegia - Affecting only one limb;
(2) Hemiplegia - Affecting only one side of the body;
(3) Diplegia - Affecting the same area of both sides of the body like only both arms or both legs;
(4) Paraplegia - Affecting both legs,
(5) Quadriplegia - Sometimes also called tetraplegia, it affects both arms and legs, and, in some cases, the whole torso is affected, while the inner organs are unaffected.
Paralysis may lead to other medical conditions; if there is no proper assistance provided, then a bed-ridden patient may develop bedsores which can even lead to severe infection in the body. Besides, due to complete loss of tactile sensation (sensation of the touch), the patient may not realise any skin or muscle-related problem like infection, itching, burning, etc. until it is too late. Some patients who are completely immobile for years also show signs like fragility and fracturing of the bones. Therefore, the secondary conditions are more life-threatening to the affected persons than paralysis itself.
The temporary condition is reversible. However, permanent paralysis is usually an irreversible medical condition. Currently, there is no cure for permanent paralysis. Some therapies and treatments may offer good progress, though. The physical therapy consists of applying massage and heat to and exercising the affected part may provide some help by stimulating muscles and nerve cells.
Question 1: Do Treatments for Permanent Paralysis Show Improvement?
Answer: Permanent paralysis is a medical condition resulting from a lack of coordination of the affected body part with the central nervous system. Problems like an injury to the brain and spinal cord, when taken care of, can result in the reversal of the condition. Therapies like heat and massage treatment of the affected areas have shown some signs of healing of the nerve cells in the affected area. For muscle flaccidity, electrical stimulation with a muscle stimulator can help reduce the shrinkage of muscles.
Question 2: Is There a Definite Way of Avoiding Paralysis?
Answer: Permanent paralysis is a medical condition resulting from a range of factors. Things like head and spine injuries are common with road accidents; therefore driving safely and wearing a helmet are important. Polio is an infectious disease which may lead to severe paralysis of one or all limbs. The pathogen virus inhibits the growth of the limbs, which leads to paralysis. Polio vaccination is the best way to avoid paralysis.