Hemiplegia is one of the major health concerns in society today. The condition involves paralysis of one side of the body, from top to bottom.
Typically, the condition interferes with functionality of arms and legs. It can also go as far as to the torso. There are various causes and elements that trigger its development; to some people, it occurs suddenly while to some it is a gradual process.
In gradual paralysis, various parts of the body start feeling numb; it can be the finger on the right hand and the right knee.
It can be painful or not; primarily, the nerves are dying hence inflexible joints and muscles in these body parts. In other severe cases, a person with good health or previous mild symptoms of body infection wakes up to a paralyzed side of the body.
The health condition is characterized by chronic muscle pain and muscle inflexibility. In most cases, it ends up interfering with the brain because it not only affects muscles but also sensitivity of nerves.
How does it affect the brain?
The human brain is divided into two, where every hemisphere has specific and unique roles to do with controlling the body.
The two parts are joined by fibers for communication. Corpus Callosum is the medical term used to describe the glue like substance and band of fibers that connect the two sides.
The constant communication between the two sides means they are interdependent. The right side of the brain cannot function without the left side and vice versa. Functions of one side is entirely dependent on response and activities of the other side.
Therefore, when Hemiplegia affects one side of the brain, the other is damaged as well. The brain cannot function halfway like other parts of the body.
A patient with this condition can survive with one hand, one leg, one eye but not the brain.
Understanding facts about this health condition helps in proper handling of affected patients and possibly prevent yourself from contracting the disease.
Causes of Hemiplegia
Hemiplegia can be acquired or genetic. Some people with this condition have never been exposed to the common causes hence the link to family blood. However, how genes are manipulated to influence muscle and nerve functions is not yet clear.
As at now, there is still uncertainty on the causes of hemiplegia.
Nevertheless, hemiplegia is mostly acquired if an individual is exposed to the following factors.
While the brain is hidden within the skull, it is still a delicate part and prone to damage. Brain injury can be caused by both internal and external factors.
Nerve diseases can easily cause damage on one side of the brain. Other risk factors include road accidents, violence and falling from high building. Either of these factors can interfere with fibers in the brain, which inhibits nerve functions.
Physical injury is the most common cause of brain damage. The defect can easily be identified with memory loss and speech difficulties after an accident. This can cut communication to one side of the body hence hemiplegia.
Charles Brown discovered the condition in the mid-1800. The injury type was named after this scientist. It involves severe damage to one side of the spinal cord, which is responsible for sensation with regards to temperature and pain.
Injury on this part of the spinal cord affects either side of the body hence inability to sense, touch or danger. People with this condition do not feel the burning effect of fire because they are not sensitive to pain. The injury involves chronic pain and gradual sensitivity effect on one side of the brain.
Aneurysms and Hemorrhage
This is a common cause of Hemiplegia; it can be in newborns or adults. Aneurysms is bulging of the arterial wall, which is the main source of oxygen in the brain. In most cases, the bulging ends up in bursting of the artery thus interfering with brain’s functions to communicate through the nerves.
If the bulging is detected early, it can be managed but there is little chance of stopping the effect. It is a fatal condition, which often leads to Hemiplegia. Hemorrhage is also a fatal condition that occurs in people of all age and gender.
Meningitis is one of the common brain infections that interferes with functionality of the body. Different brain infections interfere with different parts of the brain. Most brain infections are fatal and delicate to handle because every system of the body is partly or entirely tied to nerve functions, which is controlled in the brain.
This is the primary function of the brain. Hence, any infection interferes with the brain executing this vital role. Prolonged infections lead to permanent damage of blood vessels and nerves on one side of the brain, which affects all parts of the body on the same side.
Signs and symptoms
Difficulty in speech
The brain controls fluency and consistency in speech. Therefore, most infections and injury in the brain interfere with this function. Usually, this is evident in the first few days after brain damage. An individual may speak but in a slurred manner.
Depending on the affected side of the body, an affected person loses sensation either totally or partially. The partial loss of sensation is often in the early stages; if the condition is not managed, the sensation is completely lost. It is a fatal sign of advanced stages of hemiplegia.
Loss of motor skills
Flexibility of muscles and joints is dependent on nerve function of the brain. Typically, people affected by hemiplegia have difficulty in movement. In extreme conditions, it is impossible to move the affected side of the body; if it moves, it is with great difficulty.
Most patients will stagger when walking because of the muscle inflexibility. Hemiplegia interferes with body balance, which exposes a patient to constant falls.
Affected people have inconsistent moods and cognitive abilities. Also, their perception of the environment is not stable. Unstable mental functions directly links to hemiplegia.
Although the mentioned symptoms are easy to identify and relate with hemiplegia because they all relate to brain functions, it is important to ascertain before determining any treatment or management options. Medical practitioners base on several elements of the body to determine occurrence of this health condition.
After noticing two or three of the mentioned signs and symptoms, consulting with an expert for examination is vital.
Here are some common tests that help in establishing the exact cause of Hemiplegia
This is the most common procedure for brain tests. It entails a computer technology that depends on X-rays to take pictures of the brain from different angles.
The imaging procedure identifies any tumors or form of brain injury. Most structural abnormalities in the brain lead to Hemiplegia.
Blood disorders and any form of infection including cancer can be identified with a complete blood count. The test involves analysis of blood content against a standard measure.
Hemoglobin level is also tested. Any discrepancies on sedimentation rate among other elements of blood point to possible infection and cause of existing symptoms.
MRI test works like CT scan; images of body tissues are taken for examination. However, MRI is safe and more detailed because it does not base on X-rays but magnetic field.
No radioactivity is involved in this process and it is more accurate. Detailed images of the brain help in detecting any abnormalities and possible effect to the body.
The electrical activity and balance in the brain has everything to do with Hemiplegia. This test establishes a balance of positivity and negatively of electric currents in the brain.
Any imbalance whether on the positive or negative lead to seizures. EEG test is taken severally to establish a pattern.
Hemiplegia is a sensitive condition that can lead to permanent damage of body tissues. However, if the conditions is identified early enough, doctors can use different approaches to regain motor abilities and sensitivity of the body.
Common treatment techniques include;
Electrical simulation, surgery on contractions, neural medicine, and intensive physical therapy.