diplegia and spinal cord injury

Diplegia

Diplegia is a disease that causes paralysis of symmetrical body parts.  These could affect similar parts of the body and on each side.

This disease causes weakness, lack of mobility or stiffness in muscle groups on all sides of the body. Such parts to be affected could either be both arms and legs. However, this condition mostly affects the legs though it could also affect the face and arms of others.

similar term to diplegia

Diplegia is a condition that is often confused with terms like hemiplegia, paraplegia since the terminologies are almost similar. These are however completely different conditions.

Paraplegia affects only the legs.

Hemiplegia affects only one part of the body. It is referred to as spasticity.

This is also the most common type of cerebral palsy. It limits a person’s ability to freely move their fingers, arms, hands, and difficulty in grasping objects.

Due to these inabilities, one may require leg braces or walkers. This is a dreaded condition as it has no cure. Therapy, surgery, medication, and braces can, however, contain the condition if detected early.

Another similar term is quadriplegia, which affects all the four limbs.

This disease is also the main cause of crippled children. It is a neurological disorder, associated with cerebral palsy. This disorder affects muscle coordination and body movements, even though there are cases whose causes are different. Such could include infections, spinal cord or traumatic injuries.

This condition can affect any body part. The main areas though are the arms, legs, and face. Read on to get detailed information on each of the causes to these body parts.

Facial Diplegia

This is a rare condition that affects the face on both sides leading to paralysis. It is also referred to as bilateral facial paralysis. It occurs in approximately 50% of patients who have Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

It is difficult to diagnose this condition since it is rare. However, some of the main causes of this disease are vascular, metabolic, infectious, neurological, traumatic, idiopathic, and toxic conditions. Further, it is important to note that idiopathic cases of facial diplegia are below 20%, and more than 50% of unilateral facial paralysis cases are attributable to idiopathic conditions.

Facial diplegia is the largest infectious cause of Lyme disease. Other causes are diabetes, porphyria, GBS, acute leukemia, and sarcoidosis.

Facial diplegia can be treated but depending on the original cause. Vascular, infectious, and toxic causes can be treated by treating the initial problem first.

Once the initial cause is established and treated, then the paralysis condition leaves.

Other treatments that have been successful on patients are IVIG and PE therapies.

Diplegia of the Legs

This condition results in both legs being paralyzed. It can occur in three levels namely mild, moderate and severe diplegia.

Mild diplegia is a condition that affects a person but they can run to some extent. Moderate diplegia affects a person to an extent where they can walk with the knees slightly bent. They cannot run and must use handrails when moving up and down the stairs.

Severe diplegia is where persons are not able to walk on their own and must rely on crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers for support.

Kids who are affected by leg diplegia experience slow growth of the leg muscles. This leads to short muscles, decreased motion range, and stiff joints as the child continue growing. Interestingly, children who are affected by diplegia finally end up walking, as development and growth are not major issues.

The main cause of leg diplegia is cerebral palsy. Other possible causes are injuries, trauma, and genetics which are quite rare. The two main periods during which leg diplegia occurs are during complete diagnosis age of 2-5 years and with premature babies.

Diagnosis of diplegia is not possible until a child attains two years. At this age, the signs and symptoms should allow a diagnosis to be done before contractures occur.

Treatment of diplegia of the legs can be done. It is grouped depending on age brackets. Major forms of treatment are using wheelchairs, walkers, and performing therapies and surgeries.

Age Brackets for Diplegia Treatment

As earlier stated, diplegia of the legs can be treated as per different age groups. After recognizing any signs of the disease in a child there are specific treatments for different age groups.

They are grouped from 0-1 years, 1-3 years, 4-6 years, 7-12 years, and 13-18 years. It is advisable to get medication that pertains to the age group that a person belongs to as classified above.

Arm Diplegia

This is another area commonly affected by this condition. It causes problems when trying to point, release, grasp, reach to and manipulate objects. Other functions performed by the arms are affected too.

This condition is mainly caused by injuries or traumatic occurrences. Further, it is very likely for people suffering from cerebral palsy to contract this disease.

Treatment for this condition can be done if a diagnosis is done early. There are treatments for people whose upper limbs are paralyzed.  Such include; occupational therapy, physiotherapy, neurodevelopment treatment, and strength training.

These depend on environmental and behavioral conditions. Another form of treatment that can be used is through casts and splints. Pharmacological treatments like Botulinum toxin and electrophysical agents like NMES may also be used when necessary. Where the case is severe, the upper limbs can be subjected to surgery.  

Evolvement of Diplegia

Diplegia was first referenced with paraplegia in 1890 by Peterson and Sachs. These two terms were used together because they were classified as cerebral palsy.

Later on, in 1955, the term diplegia was used in the medical field to refer to a patient with limbs affected symmetrically. This condition was referred to as hemiplegia meaning limbs on similar body parts.

Thereafter in 1956, diplegia affected parts on each side of the body, presented as bilateral cerebral palsy. Milani Comparetti later on in 1965 differentiated tetraplegia from diplegia.

He did so by considering the ability of a patient’s upper limbs to communicate a satisfactory aid reaction. From there came the notion that diplegia is symmetrical to one limb or body part like the arms or legs. This became different from quadriplegia, paralysis of all legs and arms.


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