Hemiparesis is a type of paralysis that affects the muscles of your entire body rather than one side. It is also called unilateral paralysis or single-sided weakness. The term hemiparesis is used to describe any paralysis limited to one side of the body. That being said, hemiplegia and diplegia are the most common forms of unilateral paralysis. If you have diplegia, you have paralysis in both your legs, and if you have hemiplegia, you have paralysis in both your arms. The muscles on the side of the body affected by hemiparesis will be weaker than the other muscles, and they will not move as well. The affected side of your body may feel “heavy” or “dead.” You may have problems with coordination, balance, and walking.
1. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is used to strengthen the affected muscles and to help you improve your coordination, balance, and walking. Your physical therapist might recommend exercises that will help you increase the mobility of your affected arm or leg. It is important to note that your physical therapist will not be able to make your paralyzed arm or leg move on its own. Your physical therapist may instruct you on using the affected arm or leg, such as holding an object, but you will have to do all the movement yourself.
2. Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy focuses on activities of daily living, such as dressing yourself and eating with utensils. An occupational therapist will help you do these things independently, even if you have problems with movement or pain in your hands. For example, if it is difficult for you to dress because of the weakness of one arm, an occupational therapist may suggest ways to get dressed that don’t require two suitable components. With weakness on one side of body, it becomes difficult to do some activities of daily living. You have to find ways to do these things independently, even if you have problems with movement or pain in your hands.
3. Rehabilitation Therapy
Rehabilitation therapy focuses on getting you back to the activities you enjoy most. Your rehabilitation therapist will work with you to create a plan of action that will help you regain strength, mobility, and independence. An occupational therapist will help you return to your daily routines.
There are many different types of surgery used to treat paralysis. Surgery may be used for people who have had a stroke or those who have had an injury that has resulted in paralysis. Some surgical procedures are used for people who have cervical myelopathy or spinal cord compression, which is when the vertebrae are squeezing the spinal cord in your neck or spine. When surgery is used to treat paralysis, it is called “spinal cord stimulation.” Spinal cord stimulation involves inserting a device into the spinal column to stimulate the nerves responsible for movement.
5. Prosthetics and Orthotics
Prosthetics or orthotics are devices that can help restore function to your affected limb. A prosthetic device may be used for people with limb loss, hand weakness, or foot weakness. A prosthetic device helps you regain control of your affected limb by allowing you to move it in ways that you could not do before. For example, if your arm is paralyzed and you can’t hold a cup of coffee with it, a prosthetic component may be used to help you drink coffee. You will be fitted with an artificial limb at your doctor’s office or in an outpatient rehabilitation facility (such as a hospital-based clinic or a home health agency). Once fitted with your prosthetic device, you will continue to come to therapy sessions with your therapist to learn how to use your artificial limb.
The prognosis for hemiparesis depends on the cause of your paralysis, how long it has been present, and how severe it is. The forecast for hemiplegia is not as good as the prognosis for hemiparesis. The longer your paralysis has been current, your prediction will be worse. It is also harder to recover from paralysis if you have had it for a long time.
7. Electrical Stimulation
Electrical stimulation involves using electrical signals sent through a wire and into the spine, which is used to help restore blood flow, nerve signals, and muscle movement. Electrical stimulation can help people with paralysis regain sensation in the affected limb or part of the body. In some cases, electrical stimulation has been used on people who have had a stroke. Electrical stimulation is not widely used in the United States for treating paralysis.
Hemiparesis and hemiplegia can be very frustrating and scary. However, many different treatments can help you get back to doing what you enjoy. If you are experiencing a loss of muscle control in your legs or arms, book an appointment with your doctor right away. Many options are available to treat hemiparesis, including physical therapy and surgery.