June 10, 2009

Physiotherapy Treatment for Paralysis

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Paralysis can be described as the loss of muscle function in a particular part of the body. As a result, the patient will not be able to move that body part properly on their own. People with paralysis also lose all feeling in the affected areas of the body; for example, they may notice a pin, or a hot object pressed against the paralyzed limb. This problem of muscle and sensation loss occurs when something goes wrong in the way signals are passed between the brain and the muscles. Paralysis can affect different people in various ways, as it can:

  • Be complete or partial
  • Affect one or both sides of the body
  • Occur in just a single area or multiple areas
  • Last for a short while (after a stroke) or be a lifelong problem (after a spinal injury)

Paralysis can be of different types and studies show that 1 in 50 people in the US suffer from some degree of paralysis, which could include:

  • Monoplegia, where only one limb is affected by the paralysis
  • Hemiplegia, in which the arm and leg on one side of the body cannot be moved.
  • Paraplegia, which occurs when the lower half of the body, including both the legs, gets paralyzed. Patients with this form of paralysis lead a fairly independent life, by using a wheelchair for their daily activities.
  • Quadriplegia, the paralysis of the arms as well as the legs. Patients suffering from this form of paralysis require a lot of support. They also need a dedicated caregiver to look after their basic day to day needs.

The outlook for patients with paralysis varies, depending upon the severity and the underlying cause of the problem.


Our senses of movement and feeling are controlled by the communication between the central nervous system (consisting of the brain & spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (the sensory nerves). Any disruption of communication or nerve impulses from the brain to muscles could affect muscle control and movement adversely. This in turn leads to loss of coordination as well as weakness in the muscles, which could gradually progress to paralysis. Some of the most common factors that can lead to paralysis include:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a neuromuscular disease
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Brain cancer, hemorrhage or tumor
  • Broken neck
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Exposure to snake venom, botulinum & toxins (like lead, mercury or arsenic)
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Herniated vertebral disk
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy, an inherited disorder
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Strokes
  • Transient Ischemic Attack
  • Trauma to the head

Until a few years ago, polio was also regarded as one of the possible causes of paralysis in people. Though polio has now been completely eradicated in the US, it could still be a cause of paralysis in other countries.


The main sign of paralysis is loss of movement and sensation in the affected part. However, depending upon the cause of the problem, the patient may show other signs and symptoms too, such as:

  • Changes is personality and behavior
  • Confusion or clumsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Decline in the ability to read, write, think, speak and understand
  • Drooling while speaking
  • Numbness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Hearing loss

Some patients may show many of the symptoms mentioned above, whereas on the other hand, others may show none.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for paralysis at the moment. However, the treatment is aimed at helping patients adapt to their lives, by making them as independent as they can get. Paralysis treatment also focuses on addressing health problems and potential complications that may arise. Very often, treating the underlying cause of the problem restores mobility in the affected body part. The doctor may recommend medication, therapies, surgical procedures, exercises and self-care tips to treat the causes of paralysis.

There are many people who ask their doctors can physiotherapy cure paralysis?” In case the problem occurs due to factors like s stroke or a transient ischemic attack, daily physiotherapy can help restore movement and sensation in that limb to a great extent. This form of treatment is slow and laborious, but it can help regain movement in the paralyzed limb.

Paralysis Diet

The diet for a paralytic patient plays a very important role in the treatment of the condition. A few specific B complex vitamins like niacin and vitamin B12 help improve the way the nervous system functions. Essential fatty acids are also an important part of a paralysis diet, because they reduce any inflammation in the body and improve the health of the nervous system. Foods that are high in these nutrients include:

  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Flaxseed
  • Lentils
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Walnut

Paralytic patients often suffer from complications like urinary or bowel incontinence. Therefore, it is best to check with a doctor before designing a diet for the patient.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/paralysis.html