Paralysis is a condition caused due to complete loss of muscle function of one or more muscle groups. It can affect the functioning of the whole body or can be limited to a specific part of the body. It can even occur on one or both sides of the body. Paralysis of the lower half of the body, including both legs, is called paraplegia. Paralysis of the arms and legs is quadriplegia.
In most cases, the person experiencing paralysis loses all sensation of feeling in the affected area. Paralysis may be temporary, depending upon the cause. If it is caused due to damage of nervous system, it is usually consistent. Sleep paralysis, on the other hand, only affects a person during the time that immediately precedes sleep or just after waking up.
Causes of Paralysis
Paralysis is the result of damage caused to the nervous system or brain, especially the spinal cord. Major causes include stroke, trauma, poliomyelitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), botulism, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Temporary paralysis is experienced during REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep) and dysregulation of this system can lead to episodes of waking paralysis.There are also other causes such as drugs that affect the nervous system. There are also many other causes that are still unknown.
Signs & Symptoms of Paralysis
The signs and symptoms of paralysis generally depend upon what caused the paralysis, as well as which part of the body is affected. Loss of movement and feeling can be sudden and immediate, such as with trauma or stroke, or it can begin with muscle weakness and gradually progress. Some of the indirect effects of paralysis include:
Changes to circulation and respiration.
· Changes to the kidneys and gastrointestinal system.
· Changes to muscles, joints, and bones.
· Spasticity of the limbs.
· Muscle spasms.
· Pressure sores.
· Blood clots in the lower limbs.
· Feelings of numbness or pain.
· Skin injury.
· Bacterial infection.
Disruption of the normal working of the tissues glands, and organs.
· Loss of control of urination.
· Sexual difficulties.
· Abnormal sweating.
· Abnormal breathing or heart rate.
· Balance problems.
· Difficulty thinking.
· Behavioral issues.
· Difficulty speaking or swallowing.
· Vision problems.
Coping with Paralysis
The paralytic patients require immediate and ongoing, long-term treatment. The first stages of treatment involves preventing further injury caused to the nerves or the spinal cord. Paralysis requires a chronic care with a combination of rehabilitation programs and assistive technologies.
The rehabilitation for paralysis is aimed at overcoming, minimizing or working through disabilities, so patients can regain the movement or function of the muscles.
Spinal cord injury that results in paralysis can be very traumatic and confusing. While counselors will play a part in helping the paralytic patient to reach acceptance, it’s important that the affected person should work with his family to ensure the future health and quality of life.
During the acute phase, the paralytic patient should:
• Ask questions about what has happened. Accumulate as much knowledge as possible regarding his or her situation.
• Do the task he or she can do independently, and accept help for those he or she can’t do.
• Gather financial, insurance and employment paperwork.
Once the survivor has moved out of the acute phase and is in rehabilitation, he or she should:
• Focus on getting back to an independent life in terms of everyday life, work, and social situations.
• Be committed to therapy.
• Stay positive.
• Celebrate all achievements.
• Be patient with the rehab process, and realize that the injury will dictate how fast it goes.
• Attempt simple tasks before complicated tasks.
• Set goals and think about the future and all its possibilities.