Hemiplegia means partial or complete paralysis of one side of the body. The central nervous system--including the brain, the coverings of the brain (meninges), and the spinal cord -- and peripheral nerves are involved.
Appropriate health care includes: physician's monitoring of general condition and medications; hospitalization; psychotherapy or counseling for depression, and learning to cope with disability; physical therapy; long-term nursing-home care (sometimes).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSWeakness or paralysis of the arm and leg on the affected side.
Difficulty speaking, understanding, or recognizing words.
Altered or lost sensation on the affected side.
Difficulty with self-feeding.
Blurred, double or decreased vision.
Because of the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord, injury to one side of the brain affects the opposite side of the body. The following signs and symptoms vary greatly between individuals:
CAUSESStroke (the most common). Stroke may be caused by bleeding in the brain or by a blood clot or other obstruction of a blood vessel to the brain.
Brain injury in an area that controls one side of the body. Injury may result from:
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Obtain medical treatment to control your child's hypertension or diabetes.
Protect your child from head injury:
-- Use seat belts in cars.
-- Urge your child to wear protective headgear during contact sports or while riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
-- Urge your child not to drink alcohol or use mind-altering drugs and drive.
MEDICAL TESTSYour own observation of symptoms; medical history and physical exam by a doctor; laboratory studies of blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid; EKG (See Glossary); X-rays of the brain and neck; special studies that may include ultrasonography, CAT or CT scan, MRI, and radionuclide scan (See Glossary for all).
Shortening of the muscles (contractures).
Slow deterioration of the musculo-skeletal system.
Injury or burns due to reduced mobility and decrease of pain responses.
Depends on the extent of the child's injury. Brain tissue does not repair itself, but other parts of the brain can take over lost functions.
Ask family and friends for support, and obtain professional help in readjusting your life.
Let the child sleep on an egg-crate foam mattress or a waterbed to prevent pressure sores.
MEDICATIONMedications to control hypertension, diabetes, or other underlying disorders.
Anti-coagulants to prevent blood-clot formation, if a stroke resulting from a clot caused the paralysis.
No medication can repair damaged brain tissue, but your doctor may prescribe:
Your child can resume normal activities gradually. With rehabilitation, many lost functions can be compensated for or restored. Passive exercise for paralyzed or partially paralyzed muscles prevents contractures.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet for hemiplegia, but diabetes or hypertension may require special diets. Consult your doctor.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, only when strength and sense of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of hemiplegia.
The following occurs during treatment: signs of infection, such as fever, muscle aches, chills, and headache; difficulty in emptying the bladder.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.