Paralysis – Symptoms, Types, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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Paralysis causes loss of muscle movements. A paralysis patient can experience loss of movement of the voluntary muscles in the body or certain areas of the body. Paralysis can be complete, partial, generalized, or localized. It is caused when there is an interruption in the nerve signals due to damage to the nerves, brain, or spinal cord. Muscles receive signals from the nerves, which help muscles to move. So, in case of paralysis, the movement of body parts becomes restricted.

Let us learn more about paralysis, its types, causes, and other aspects in this post.

What are the Types and Symptoms of Paralysis?

Paralysis is classified into various types, and its severity can vary depending on the affected body parts. Paralysis can be temporary or permanent, depending on the underlying cause. The table below discusses some types of paralysis:

Paralysis Type

Detail

Diplegia

Under Diplegia, limbs, including arms and legs on both sides of the body, are affected. For instance, this condition may affect both sides of the face, arms, legs, etc

Hemiplegia

This condition generally arises due to a stroke, and it affects one side of the body as well as may harm your brain on one side

Locked-in Syndrome

This is the least common type of Paralysis, yet the most severe one. Under such paralysis, the patient is unable to move muscles. They can only move the muscles that control eye movement

Monoplegia

In this condition, one limb, like the leg or arm, gets affected

Paraplegia

Paralysis starting around the waist is termed paraplegia

Quadriplegia

Under this condition, all four limbs are paralyzed. Sometimes, certain other organs may also experience paralysis

Peresis

This is the condition of partial paralysis that causes extreme muscle weakness

Symptoms of Paralysis

As per the type of Paralysis, the paralysis symptoms differ. Here are some paralysis attack symptoms that can happen at any time. Children as well as adults can experience paralysis. Thus, it is good to know and be mindful of the symptoms.

Mild symptom

Severe symptom 

Muscular discomfort that stays even after light exercise

Trouble understanding, communicating, remembering, writing, or reading
Muscle spasms

Face drooping and trouble moving the facial muscles

Constant weakness

Increased sensitivity to sound
Tingling sensation

Rashes

Longer episodes of muscular weakness

Reduced capacity to taste
Pain in the affected side’s jaw or ear

Severe headache

Constipation

Loss of eyesight or visual alterations
Clumsiness

Fever

Numbness

Mood, attitude, or behavior changes
Diarrhea

Loss of hearing

Either nausea or vomiting,

Drooling
Pain in the neck area

Confusion or loss of consciousness

What are some of the Causes of Paralysis?

Paralysis attack reasons can be several. Sometimes, it can be due to stroke, brain tumor, or any other disease, or it may be due to injuries and other causes. Here are some of these causes mentioned in the table below: 

Paralysis Causes 

Explanation 

Stroke

Paralysis may be caused due to strokes or mini-strokes, which cause sudden loss of facial strength on one side of the body as well as speech slurring

Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s Palsy is a condition when people experience sudden facial muscle weakness, causing paralysis.

Here, one side of the face becomes weak

Injuries

Sometimes, injuries also cause paralysis, especially severe brain or spinal injury.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a condition that causes momentary difficulty in moving while getting up from sleep or drifting off to sleep

Weakness

Multiple sclerosis, hypokalemic periodic Paralysis, or myasthenia gravis are some cases where the paralysis patient experiences periodic weakness in the face, legs, or arms. These conditions may cause paralysis

Brain tumor

Brain tumor can also cause paralysis as one side of the body gradually gets weak under this condition

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome can be a cause of paralysis. It starts in the legs and progresses to the face and arms within days

Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome

Motor neuron illness, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, and spinal muscular atrophy are some conditions that cause arms and legs to be paralyzed

Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a congenital disability that can cause paralysis in the legs

Post-polio Syndrome

Post-polio syndrome, caused many years after contracting polio, can also cause paralysis

Friedreich’s Ataxia

Paralysis in the legs can be caused due to weakness in the legs caused by Friedreich’s ataxia or hereditary spastic paraplegia

Other causes

If people with severe medical disorders and lifestyle diseases get injured, it may enhance the causes of Paralysis. For example, diabetic nerve damage which makes walking difficult

Is Paralysis Common? 

A report by the Indian Institute of Paralysis states that in India, 12,000 to 15,000 of every one crore people have Paralysis, which is concerning. Paralysis affects life in several ways. Hence, it is important to be aware of the causes, symptoms, treatment, and, most importantly, prevention tips to avoid the condition.

What are the Degrees of Severity of paralysis?

The degree of paralysis also depends on the amount of muscle function loss faced by a paralysis patient. At times, patients may suffer a temporary paralysis attack and may regain complete health and movement over time. For example, in partial paralysis, or paresis, which causes substantial muscle weakness and loss of movement, the patient may have a certain degree of control over muscles that are affected.

Complete paralysis, on the other hand, is the condition when a person cannot move the affected area at all. In case of permanent paralysis, the patient may never regain muscle control in most cases, and it is considered an irreversible condition.

As per the degree of severity, Paralysis can be categorized as:

  • Partial (paresis) paralysis where the patient has control of certain muscles
  • Complete paralysis, where the patient has no control and cannot move any muscles

Diagnosis and Paralysis Treatment 

To diagnose paralysis better, the underlying cause of the paralysis must be identified. Paralysis causes loss of muscle movements and can be diagnosed by a doctor in case a patient experiences a paralysis attack symptom due to injury or any other reason. However, if the cause is due to issues in the internal organs, identifying it may become difficult. So, the patient has to undergo certain tests to identify it, as suggested by the doctor.

Below are some such tests to detect paralysis:

  • Myelography
  • CT scan
  • Spinal tap
  • MRI
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • X-ray

Tests like CT scans or MRIs help to find out the signs of stroke, brain injury, or spinal cord injury, which may have caused the paralysis. Myelogram checks for spinal cord and nerve injuries. X-rays show any broken bones, which might be the cause of nerve injury and paralysis. An electromyogram or EMG test can identify the electrical activity of muscles and nerves to suggest a paralysis. Similarly, a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) tests spinal fluid for infection, inflammation, and disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS).

Ideal Paralysis Treatment 

Below are some treatment options that may be suggested by doctors for Paralysis patients.

1. Medicines:

Medication or surgery can be suggested to patients who suffer paralysis due to an injury to improve their condition. It may decrease the risk of other infections and damage.

2. Physiotherapy:

Physiotherapy and exercise are highly recommended for paralysis patients to treat the condition. Especially, patients suffering from partial or total paralysis can benefit from physiotherapy.

What are the Common Complications that can result from Paralysis?

Paralysis may cause complications due to a lack of muscle movement and function, which aid in blood circulation, mobility, and other functions like heart and lungs, especially over the long term.

Some common complications that can result from paralysis are:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots
  • Risk of developing infections due to weakened breathing
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Problems with bowel and bladder
  • Bed sores due to lack of movement
  • Muscle weakness due to lack of movement
  • Weight gain and depression, etc.

How can Paralysis patients improve their quality of life?

Paralysis patients can improve their quality of life by using equipment like wheelchairs, including manual or electric wheelchairs. These wheelchairs help patients obtain mobility in terms of commuting within the house and short distances. This is especially helpful for people who are paralyzed from the lower part of the body and whose upper body is functioning smoothly.

Similarly, people whose upper bodies are weak can use electric wheelchairs. Further, modified vehicles are available for people with special needs. These vehicles are equipped to support people with limited movements.

Can Paralysis be Prevented? 

Prevention of paralysis depends on the cause of the disease in many cases. Several underlying health issues or injuries can lead to Paralysis. It is seen that spinal injuries cause the most paralysis. To avoid chances of paralysis caused by spinal injury or other medical conditions, the below steps can be taken:

  • Always use seatbelts while driving cars. Also, make the children use seat belts too
  • If on a diving trip, check the water depths beforehand
  • Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol or any other substance
  • Be careful and use proper gear while participating in sports or activities
  • Don’t move people who have received injury on the head, neck, or spine. Call for medical assistance immediately
  • Eat a balanced diet and perform mild exercise regularly to stay healthy
  • Avoid habits like smoking and maintain weight
  • Take up annual health check-ups to identify any early signs of the diseases

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FAQs: What is Paralysis?

What are the early symptoms of paralysis?

~ Limited movement of some or all parts of the body, including your face
~ You can experience weakness in your face and body
~ Your face/body may get numb, or you may experience tingles all the time
~ Your face/body may become stiff with muscle spasms

How to avoid paralysis?

By maintaining good health, regular health check-ups, and avoiding injuries to the spinal cord, one can limit the chances of paralysis.

How to prevent paralysis?

We discussed a few tips in the post above to maintain good health and avoid spinal, head, and neck injuries, which may limit the chances of paralysis.

What are the reasons for paralysis?

Paralysis can be caused by various factors. The post above discusses some of them.

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Mar 07, 2024
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