The following are some of the symptoms of hemiparesis: Difficulty speaking or understanding words, difficulty writing letters or numbers, inability to walk without assistance, loss of strength in one hand, lack of coordination and balance problems.
Symptoms of hemiplegia: Weakness on one side (one leg) and/or weakness on both sides (both legs). The person may have trouble walking with help from another person.
What causes hemiparesis?
There are many possible reasons why someone might develop hemiparesis. Some of them include:
• Age – A person’s ability to control their muscles gradually decreases with age.
• Genetics – Hemiparesis is hereditary, meaning it can’t be changed through medicine or surgery. However, there are treatments available that can slow down the decline in muscle function. For example, physical therapy and other forms of rehabilitation work well for people who have had strokes or other brain injuries.
• Injury – An injury such as a car accident, fall, or sports-related injury can cause the same type of damage to the brain that occurs when someone has a stroke. If left untreated, these types of injuries can lead to permanent changes in your motor skills.
How is hemiparesis diagnosed?
If you think you have hemiparesis, then it is best if you see a doctor who specializes in neurology. They will ask you questions about your medical history and perform a physical examination.
During the physical examination, the doctor will test how much strength you have in your arms, legs, and fingers. They will also check your reflexes and motor skills. If they suspect that you are suffering from hemiparesis or hemiplegia, they may refer you to a specialist such as a neurologist or physiatrist for further testing.
A neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the brain and nervous system. A physiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
The specialist may perform one or more of the following tests:
1. A CT scan is a type of X-ray that produces cross-sectional images, or slices, of the areas being examined.
A neurologist may order a CT scan of your brain to check for any signs of damage.
2. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a magnet and radio waves to take detailed images of your brain.
An MRI is often used to examine younger patients because it does not use radiation.
3. A nerve conduction velocity test measures how fast signals travel along certain nerves in your body.
A small needle is inserted into a specific nerve and the time it takes for the needle to react to the signal is measured. This reaction is a result of a small electric current being introduced to the needle. A neurologist may order this test if they suspect you have damage to your nerves.
4. A muscle and nerve biopsy involves taking a small piece of muscle and testing it in a lab.
A neurologist may order this test if they suspect you have damage to your muscle tissue.
5. A blood test may be ordered to check for certain chemicals in your blood that may suggest a deficiency or point to other health problems.
Follow-up testsIf the results of your initial tests suggest that you are suffering from an issue that can be treated, your doctor will likely provide you with a treatment plan. If the results of your tests are inconclusive or if they suggest a potential long-term health problem, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further testing.
In more severe cases of hemiparesis, the patient will need physical therapy to help them learn how to do day-to-day activities again. While some patients may be able to use assistive devices and never fully recover, other patients may only have partial damage and eventually learn to function without assistance.
Sources & references used in this article:
Rehabilitation of hemiparesis after stroke with a mirror by EL Altschuler, SB Wisdom, L Stone, C Foster… – The Lancet, 1999 – academia.edu
Using motor imagery in the rehabilitation of hemiparesis by JA Stevens, MEP Stoykov – Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 2003 – Elsevier
Weakness in patients with hemiparesis by D Bourbonnais, SV Noven – American Journal of Occupational …, 1989 – ajot.aota.org
Reliability of gait performance tests in men and women with hemiparesis after stroke by UB Flansbjer, AM Holmbäck… – Journal of …, 2005 – ucdavis.pure.elsevier.com
Ataxic hemiparesis: a pathologic study by CM Fisher – Archives of Neurology, 1978 – jamanetwork.com
Mirror movements after childhood hemiparesis by BT Woods, HL Teuber – Neurology, 1978 – AAN Enterprises