Hemiparesis

CT head scan
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Definition: Hemiparesis is one-sided muscle weakness or partial paralysis. It affects either the left or right side of the body. The weakness can affect the arms, hands, legs and facial muscles. Hemiparesis occurs in almost 80 percent of stroke patients. Patients are still able to move the affected side of the body but with limited muscular strength.  

Causes of Hemiparesis

Hemiparesis can be caused by several different medical conditions.

Hemiparesis is most commonly caused by the following:

  • Congenital medical condition
  • Trauma
  • Tumor
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psychological

Symptoms of Hemiparesis

The most obvious symptom of hemiparesis is the partial paralysis of one side of the body. Symptoms are related to which side of the brain damage has occurred. An injury to the left side of the brain may result in weakness on the right side of the body. An injury to the right side of the brain may result in weakness on the left side of the body.

Some symptoms of hemiparesis include the following:

  • Inability to maintain balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to grasp objects
  • Decreased precision in movement
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Lack of coordination

Diagnosis of Hemiparesis

Diagnosis of hemiparesis is confirmed after a medical examination and imaging studies which may include the following:

  • CT scan
  • MRI

Treatment of Hemiparesis

The goal of hemiparesis treatment is for achieving improved feeling, motor skills and the management of everyday activities.

Physical and occupational therapy are used primarily in the treatment of hemiparesis, the same treatment for patients who are recovering from a brain injury or stroke.  Treatment may include the use of electrical stimulation to the brain, imagery, the use of assistive devices such as a cane, walker or wheelchair.

Fortunately, hemiparesis is not a progressive condition unless there is evidence of brain tumor growth.

Modifications to the home may need to be made to accommodate and help increase mobility. Some of the modifications may include:

  • Grab bars
  • Ramps
  • Raised toilet seats
  • A bench in the tub
  • Non-slip adhesive strips in the bathtub
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Electric razors

Prevention of Stroke

Changes to lifestyle are the best ways to reduce the risk of stroke. A healthier lifestyle reduces the risk of a stroke. Many strokes are preventable, and techniques to prevent a stroke include the following:

  • Lowering cholesterol and fat intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet
  • Managing stress
  • Reducing or limiting alcohol consumption
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Eliminating cocaine and illegal drug use

Because more than 50 percent of strokes are caused by high blood pressure, it is the most important medical condition to treat.

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