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hemiplegia and physiotherapy

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what is hemiplegia?

Hemiplegia is a severe or complete loss of strength, sensation, and control i.e. paralysis in one side of the body affecting the legs, arms, or the face. Whichever side of the brain is affected causes hemiplegia on the opposite side of the body. This is a non-progressive condition i.e. the symptoms don’t worsen with age and time. 

There are 2 types of this condition- congenital hemiplegia (which occurs in the first 2 years of life) and acquired hemiplegia (one that develops later in life). There is another variant known as crossed hemiplegia or alternate hemiplegia. This occurs when there are recurrent episodes on either side of the body mostly the eye or the tongue i.e. the symptoms come and go.

In reality, the regions i.e. arm, leg, face, eye, tongue, etc. that get paralysed are completely healthy. Instead, the problem lies in the brain that is unable to create, send, and process signals due to damage or diseases that cause hemiplegia.

what are the symptoms of hemiplegia?

Hemiplegia symptoms vary from person to person depending on what has caused it and the severity of the condition. 

Some of the most common signs to look out for include:

  • Stiffness, loss of sensation, muscle weakness on one side of the body. 
  • Difficulty in speaking. 
  • Permanent contraction in the muscles. 
  • Spasticity in the muscles during which the muscles of the affected side move involuntarily.
  • Poor motor skills. 
  • Inability to balance.
  • Having trouble in picking up or holding objects. 

If hemiplegia is caused due to an injury to the brain, it can cause symptoms that overlap with other neurological conditions like:

  • Speech issues.
  • Trouble in concentrating.
  • Trouble remembering things.
  • Changes in the behaviour and frequent mood swings. 
  • Seizures.

what causes hemiplegia?

There are several hemiplegia causes and underlying reasons that are known to contribute to this condition. Some of the most common factors include:

  • Cardiovascular problems like aneurysms and haemorrhages.
  • Strokes.
  • Infections of the brain.
  • Cancers of the brain.
  • Conditions like auto-immune diseases and multiple sclerosis that cause demyelination of the brain. 
  • Lesions in the brain.
  • Degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, etc. can destroy the neurons in the brain and the levels of the spine resulting in hemiplegia.
  • Infections like meningitis, encephalitis, sepsis, abscesses in the neck, etc. that have spread to the brain.
  • Traumatic brain injuries caused by falls, road accidents, acts of violence, sports injuries, etc.  
  • A rare mutation of the ATP1A3 gene can cause alternating hemiplegia in children. 

how is hemiplegia diagnosed?

There are several ways in which hemiplegia is diagnosed including:

  • Physical examination to check the sensation and strength of the affected muscles. 
  • Blood tests like a complete blood count (CBC), haemoglobin (Hb) level test, etc. can help the doctor assess the probable causes of hemiplegia like cancer, infections, blood disorders, etc. 
  • Imaging tests like A CT Scan, EEG, MRIs, etc. may be done to diagnose brain tumors, injuries, aneurysms, etc., check the electrical activity in the brain especially, locate the origin of seizures, and identify any abnormalities in the brain. 

how is hemiplegia treated?

In case you have experienced any of the above-mentioned symptoms after an injury or disease in the brain area, it is imperative to immediately consult your doctor. If left untreated, hemiplegia may result in painful rigidity and shortening of the muscles and other complications. 

Hemiplegia treatment depends on the reasons that have caused it and how severe the symptoms are. This is a permanent condition and has no permanent cure. With several combinations of treatment, its effects may be reduced or contained. Some lines of treatment that help in hemiplegia include:

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications to reduce blockages in the cardiovascular area and decrease the chances of strokes and seizures. She/he may also prescribe antibiotics to treat and avoid infections in the brain and muscle relaxant drugs to relieve you of muscular pain, stiffness, and discomfort. 
  • Surgery: Your doctor may advice surgery to treat co-existing issues like damage to the spinal area, involuntary muscle contractions, and problems with the tendons or ligaments, particularly in the unaffected side of the body. 

how can physiotherapy help hemiplegia patients?

Physiotherapy treatment for hemiplegia is considered to be one of the most effective ways to manage and reduce its symptoms. Since this condition renders the affected muscles without a sensation or strength, physiotherapy is aimed at improving the motor abilities and sensations in the affected areas. 

For an effective hemiplegia treatment, physiotherapy exercises have several important benefits that include: 

  • When performed regularly, physiotherapy exercises can significantly improve the strength and coordination of the muscles and the overall mobility of the patient. 
  • This helps the patient in leading a more independent life especially with everyday activities like washing, dressing, walking, eating, etc. 
  • Physiotherapy helps a patient maintain her/his overall health that might be affected due to decreased mobility. It is especially beneficial to maintain the strength of the unaffected side of the body. 

what are the kinds of exercises that help hemiplegia?

Hemiplegia exercises are specially designed to help with the painful symptoms of this condition and in improving the overall health and mental wellness of the patient. Some types of exercises that have proven to be helpful include:

  • Strength training: This includes exercises like knee rolling, single-leg bridges, single-leg dropouts, etc. to improve the range of motion and functionality on the affected side. 
  • Stretching: Stretching specific groups of muscles helps in not only relieving joint pains but also muscular atrophy. 
  • Seated aerobics: Considered to be extremely beneficial, these exercises help in burning calories and improving mobility. 
  • Water aerobics: These exercises are aimed at relaxing stiff joints and muscles and improving the range of motion. These are also great for patients to get out of their wheelchair and enjoy free movement. 

how can portea help you?

Before starting with any type of exercise for hemiplegia, it is important to consult trained therapists to minimise the risk of injuries and overexertion and effectively alleviate the painful symptoms. This is where Portea comes in!

The country’s leading in-home healthcare company, Portea has designed world-class clinical procedures to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable. We offer care for a wide range of conditions and our services include lab tests, critical care nurses, trained attendants, doctor consultations, and much more. One of our most-accessed services is physiotherapy for a variety of conditions. Some Portea advantages that you can avail include:

  • We specialise in providing comprehensive physiotherapy treatments for hemiplegia that are customised depending on the specific needs of the patients to help them heal faster. 
  • Our therapists are professional and experienced and selected after rigorous screening procedures. 
  • Besides exercises, our therapists are trained to help patients with other important things like gait training, practicing bed transfers, postural education, training on orthotic devices, healthy eating habits, and lifestyle changes to minimise the impact of hemiplegia.
  • The therapists are trained in the latest techniques like hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, kinesiology, etc. to offer the best & quickest care to you. 
  • Since the therapists visit your home, you don’t have to worry about travelling to a clinic for therapy sessions. This not only reduces discomfort but also saves travel costs. 
  • Our physiotherapy services are almost 25-30 per cent more economical than hospitals and clinics.

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Mr. Mahesh

I had a serious L4 & L5 disc prolapse when I sought Portea’s physiotherapy. Thanks a lot to Dr. Amitava and Portea for their prompt service. Keep up the good work.

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chameli verma

I had a very good experience with (Magimai rani) who visited our house and helped us.Thanks..!

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Chetan

Rakesh was excellent with the service and he was able to diagnose the problem very soon and gave the right treatment.
I was feeling better just after one session. Highly recommend him!