Paralysis is loss of the ability to move one or more muscles.It may be associated with loss of feeling and other bodily functions.

Itis not usually caused by problems with the muscles themselves, but by problemswith the nerves or spinal cord the brain uses to controlmuscles.Aperson with paralysis will usually have some form ofnerve damage.

Classifying paralysis

Paralysis can be:

  • localised where a specific section of the bodyis paralysed, such as the face or hand
  • generalised where a larger areaof the body is affected

There are also a number of medical terms used to describe different types of paralysis. For example:

  • monoplegia where one limb is paralysed
  • hemiplegia where the arm and leg on one side of the body are paralysed
  • paraplegia where both legs and sometimes the pelvis and some of the lower bodyare paralysed
  • tetraplegia where both the arms and legs are paralysed(also known as quadriplegia)

Buta person with paralysis that affects both their armsand their legs (tetraplegia/quadriplegia)willneed a great deal of support, and it is unlikelythey willbe able to live without a dedicated carer.

Paralysis can also cause a number of associated secondary conditions, such as Urinary incontinence (an inability to control the flow of urine) and bowel incontinence (where stools leak from the back passage).It may also affect sexual function in both men and women.

There is currently no cure for paralysis, except in certain conditions.In cases of permanent paralysis, treatment aims to:

  • help a person live as independently as possible
  • address any associated complications that arise from paralysis, such as pressure ulcers (sores that develop when the affected area of tissue is placed under too much pressure)
  • address bladder and bowel problems that are secondary to paralysis
  • treat spasms andcomplications resulting from paralysis

Mobility aidssuch as wheelchairs and orthoses canhelp a personwith paralysis.

Manualwheelchairs are designed for people with good upper body strength. Electric wheelchairs aredesigned for people with poor upper body muscle strength or paralysis in all four limbs.

The NHS supplies wheelchairs free of charge, but the range ofmodelsavailable is oftenlimited.

If you want a more sophisticated model, you will have to pay for it.Your local NHS wheelchair service may be able to help fund some of the cost.

They are braces made of metal or plastic designed to improve the function of a limb and compensate for muscle weakness.

Unsurprisingly, many people who are paralysed experience depression .

However, research has shownmost people with paralysis are eventually able to come to terms with the condition.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017