Paralysis, which refers to a muscle or a muscle group’s inability to move voluntarily, is the most common disability resulting from stroke. As per an estimate, 9 out of 10 survivors experience some degree of paralysis right after a stroke. Depending on stroke severity, Paralysis leads to mobility issues, which can further be enhanced by physical deconditioning due to inactivity. Because paralysis causes immobility, it has a rather significant effect on the patient’s respiration system, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, muscles, joints, bones and limb movement.
Paralysis, which commonly begins with muscle weakness and facial paralysis, can be present on the right or the left side of the body. In certain cases, it can be present unilaterally following a stroke. Severe Paralysis leaves the survivor dependent on others for activities of daily living (ADL). The impairment is commonly complemented with emotional challenges such as fear, anxiety, sadness, frustration and grief.
The specificity of Paralysis varies with the degree of brain damage as muscles are controlled by messages sent from the brain. When parts of the brain are damaged after a stroke, messaging between the brain and muscles do not work properly, resulting in Paralysis. Observed on the opposite side of the damaged brain, Paralysis may affect any part of the body. Depending upon its severity and its underlying causes, Paralysis can affect the stroke victim’s arm, leg, arm and leg or trunk. Since stroke-led paralysis is caused by brain damage, the victim’s speech, behavior, and cognitive ability can also be affected.
Facial paralysis, a loss of facial movement due to nerve damage, is among most common warning signs of the stroke. Since nerves that control the muscles in the face are damaged in the brain during a stroke, facial paralysis is characterized by loss of blinking control, decreased tearing, drooping of the mouth, altered sense of taste, slurry speech, drooling, sound hypersensitivity, difficulty in eating or drinking and pain in or behind the ear.
While hand therapy exercises are commonly used to treat Paralysis after stroke, Mirror Therapy is emerging as a new age method to address Paralysis led mobility issues. Mirror therapy, which involves performing hand exercises with the unaffected hand while a mirror reflects the image of the good hand in place of the affected hand, uses Neuroplasticity to repair the damaged areas of the brain. The method creates the illusion that the patient’s affected hand is moving and tricks his brain into thinking that he’s moving his affected hand. In order to initiate Neuroplasticity (re-wiring the brain), one needs to utilize plenty of repetition. Each time a movement is repeated, the connections in the brain become stronger.
For facial paralysis caused by stroke, the treatment is the same as for most strokes (surgery, medication or speech therapy).