Paralysis is when any muscle or muscle group cannot move voluntarily. It can be caused by many different factors, and it can affect almost any part of the body. The most common causes of paralysis are stroke and spinal cord injury. Other causes can include autoimmune diseases and diseases of the nerves.
When muscles can’t function, that can lead to other health complications. These vary widely based on the location and severity of the muscle paralysis. For example, lower body paralysis can interfere with bowel and bladder management. Paralysis can also affect breathing and cause pain in other parts of the body. Those with paralysis may also need special skin care to prevent wounds on areas of the body that no longer move. Mental health is also a concern -- depression is two to three times more likely among those who have paralysis..
Treatment of Paralysis
Treatment depends on the nature and extent of the paralysis. Those with paralysis in the lower extremities or from the neck down, for example, may need devices for mobility, like wheelchairs. Some may even need help breathing. They will likely depend on a caretaker for some parts of their daily lives.
Many forms of paralysis cannot be cured or reversed, but rehabilitation can strengthen other muscles and help those with paralysis overcome certain limitations. Research continues on paralysis, and outcomes are improving.
SOURCES: U.S. National Library of Medicine; The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation