Hemiparesis is a condition characterized by weakness on one side of the body. The condition can affect one’s ability to complete critical daily tasks and severely impact quality of life. It can cause loss of bladder control or make it difficult to speak.
Treatment is possible through consistent therapy based on an interdisciplinary approach. It is always advisable to begin treatment as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about Hemiparetic conditions.
1. Causes and Risk Factors
Weakness on one side of the body can occur after a stroke episode. The stroke limits the amount of oxygen in different parts of the brain. The lack of oxygen damages brain cells, causing loss of motor control or general sensations on one side.
The side of the body affected could be due to injuries on the opposite hemisphere of the brain. If you lose sensations on the right side, the problem is probably on the left side, and vice versa.
When injuries on one brain hemisphere affect the opposite side of the body, it is called a contralateral condition. But muscle weaknesses could also be on the same side of the injured brain hemisphere. In that case, therapists refer to the condition as ipsilateral.
It is also worth noting that multiple areas of the brain are responsible for movement. Injuries to the brain cortex or cerebrum can lead to nervous system complications.
Research suggests that 80% of stroke survivors experience weakness on one side of the body. But besides stroke, other factors can trigger the condition. They include brain injuries, cerebral palsy, and illnesses that cause complications within the Central Nervous System.
2. What are the Hemiparetic Symptoms?
Hemiparetic stroke patients may have varying symptoms depending on the nature of the brain injury. Most people experience difficulty in walking, often the result of muscle atrophy. Weaknesses in the limbs make it harder for the patient to move or grab objects with precision.
Another symptom is the Pusher Syndrome, where the patient tends to tilt away from the affected side. It can cause postural complications, and in severe cases, it may lead to stumbling or staggering.
A Copenhagen study indicates that the Pusher Syndrome occurs in about 10% of Hemiparetic patients. It takes approximately three weeks longer to treat patients with pusher syndrome compared to other stroke patients.
3. How Is It Different from Hemiplegia?
Rather than simply causing weakness on one side, Hemiplegia patients may experience partial or total paralysis. Since paralysis is a critical nervous system anomaly, Hemiplegia is considered the more severe condition.
Hemiplegia may be from a spinal injury or brain tumor. Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis are also risk factors. Hemiplegia complications are often more severe. It may lead to muscle atrophy, respiratory difficulties, or incontinence.
4. What are the Treatment Options?
It is always advisable for patients to undergo therapy as soon as they experience Hemiparetic symptoms. It is worth noting that Hemiparesis is not a progressive disease. That means after the injury, symptoms should not become worse with time.
Nonetheless, complications can occur if the patient delays treatment. Delaying therapy can lead to problems, including muscle fatigue, joint stiffness, bed sores, and blood clots. These complications can extend the duration of treatment and impact the patient’s quality of life.
Can Hemiparetic patients recover? For many people with Hemiparetic conditions, recovery is limited. Treatment may take time, but it is still possible for some patients to regain their motor skills. Working with physical and occupational therapists is crucial for recovery.
The goal of the therapy is to restore muscle and nerve sensation to allow the patient to perform day-to-day tasks. Treatment may also involve mental health and rehabilitation therapy.
A combination of kinesiotherapy and electrical stimulation can benefit people with gait complications and coordination challenges. Research also shows mental imagery can also activate parts of the brain. Other techniques involve utilizing various assistive devices to strengthen muscles and facilitate movement.
A therapist will assess the patient to determine the most effective treatment strategies. A healthcare professional will determine which assistive devices will be beneficial following the patient’s diagnosis.
While treatment can take time, recovery is possible for Hemiparetic stroke patients. Patience is critical during the recovery process. By following the therapist’s recommendations, patients can recover faster and improve their quality of life.
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