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Hemiparesis Physiotherapy Treatment

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What is Hemiplegia?

The brain is divided into two hemispheres, separated by a bundle of fibers called the corpus callosum. Generally speaking, the right side of the brain controls muscles and other functions on the left side of the body, while the left side of the brain controls much of the right side of the body. Thus hemiplegia and hemiparesis almost always indicate a problem with one side of the brain.

Hemiplegia may come on suddenly, or develop slowly over time. A condition related to hemiplegia, spastic hemiplegia, causes the muscles to get stuck in a contraction, resulting in little muscle control, chronic muscle pain, and unpredictable movements. People with hemiplegia often show other signs of brain damage or head injury and may experience issues with other areas of their bodies.

Hemiplegia, like other forms of paralysis, is characterized by significant loss of sensation and control in the affected area. People with hemiplegia may experience intermittent pain and may be better able to control their limbs at some times than at others.

What Causes Hemiplegia?

Though the arms, legs, and possibly torso are the regions of the body most obviously affected by hemiplegia, in most cases of hemiplegia these body regions are actually perfectly healthy. Instead, the problem resides in the brain, which is unable to produce, send, or interpret signals due to disease or trauma-related damage. Less frequently, hemiplegia results from damage to one side of the spinal cord, but these sorts of injuries more typically produce global problems, not just paralysis on one side of the body.

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How is Hemiplegia Treated?

There’s no single treatment approach that works for all people. Instead, treatment is largely dependent on the cause of hemiplegia. Some treatment options include:

  • Blood thinners to reduce cardiovascular blockages and decrease the chances of future strokes.
  • Antibiotics, usually delivered intravenously, to combat brain infections.
  • Surgery to remove swelling on the brain or objects lodged in the brain.
  • Muscle relaxant drugs.
  • Surgery to address secondary issues, particularly involuntary muscle contractions, spinal damage, or damage to the ligaments or tendons on the unaffected side of the body.
  • Physical therapy designed to help the brain work around the injuries. Physical therapy can also strengthen the unaffected side and help you reduce the loss of muscle control and tone.
  • Support groups, family education, and advocacy.
  • Psychotherapy to help you deal with the psychological effects of the disease.
  • Exercise therapy to help you remain healthy in spite of your disability.
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