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Hemiplegia is a medical condition in which one side of the body becomes paralyzed. This generally happens when a brain or spinal cord injury has occurred. Treatment of hemiplegia is aimed at restoring as many bodily functions as possible as well as preventing complications that naturally arise from the inability to move the body or control bodily functions. Some of these treatment options include prescription medications as well as physical and occupational therapy. Medical devices are also available that can aid in mobility, with surgical intervention becoming necessary in the most extreme cases.
Medications are often prescribed as a method of treatment for hemiplegia. The type of medication depends on the extent of the condition. Pain medications are often prescribed, particularly if migraines are present due to partial facial paralysis. Blood thinners are among the most prescribed medications for hemiplegia. This type of medication helps prevent the blood clots that are prone to forming when there is limited body movement.
Physical therapy is another treatment option widely used in hemiplegia patients. Physical therapy involves exercising the affected muscles in order to promote muscle health as well as to prevent atrophy, or wasting away of the muscle due to lack of use. In cases where the patient is unable to assist with these exercises, the physical therapist will perform the exercises by manually moving and stretching the affected muscles.
Yet another treatment option for those living with hemiplegia is occupational therapy. This type of therapy is designed to assist the patient with normal activities of daily living. The occupational therapist is equipped to train patients in creative ways to help take care of themselves when motor skills are compromised. Occupational therapy can be a major key in helping the patient develop confidence as well as some degree of self-sufficiency.
The use of braces or splints can help some hemiplegia patients lead more mobile lives. Along with other treatment options, these devices can help some patients walk independently. Medications to reduce muscle spasms are commonly used along with this type of treatment.
Surgical intervention is often necessary for hemiplegia patients. Depending on the type of injury, rods may need to be placed in the back in order to stabilize the spine. It is also necessary in some instances to insert tubes that will assist with bodily functions such as feeding or breathing. While these treatments do nothing to cure the paralysis, they can prolong the life of the patient while other options are being explored.
In the most severe cases involving paralysis, no medical treatments are able to assist the patient in living a more normal or productive life. In these cases, treatment involves prolonging life as humanely as possible. Special care should be taken to avoid pressure sores, which tend to develop due to lack of movement. If left untreated, these sore can lead to life-threatening infections.
Of course, the former Alabama governor George Wallace was paraplegic, not hemiplegic, but I do remember seeing news reports that he suffered a tremendous amount of pain, and that a heated swimming pool was installed in the governor's mansion to help him with pain relief, as well as physical therapy. I know that hydrotherapy is also used for hemiplegic patients.
Some people become so adept at the use of just one side of their bodies that they are able to swim unassisted, but with supervision. Hydrotherapy does not stress the joints, and provides support for the body, and healthy resistance for muscles.
I'm guessing the writer meant by "the most severe" cases someone who has probably had a bad stroke and is unable to move much, swallow, breathe independently, etc. That would be my guess, anyway.
I do know that physical therapy can help mild paralysis. Sometimes the therapy can help restore at least limited mobility to the affected side, which is usually considered a major victory for the person who is dealing with the hemiplegia.
Many people benefit nearly as much from occupational therapy because they have a goal to achieve and learn that they can still do some things for themselves. It's a really good area of treatment.
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