paralysis [pah-ral´ĭ-sis] (pl. paral´yses.)
Loss or impairment of motor function in a part due to a lesion of the neural or muscular mechanism; also, by analogy, impairment of sensory function (sensory paralysis
). Paralysis is a symptom of a wide variety of physical and emotional disorders rather than a disease in itself. Called also palsy
Types of Paralysis
. Paralysis results from damage to parts of the nervous system. The kind of paralysis resulting, and the degree, depend on whether the damage is to the central nervous system or the peripheral nervous system.
If the central nervous system is damaged, paralysis frequently affects the movement of a limb as a whole, not the individual muscles. The more common forms of central paralysis are hemiplegia
(in which one entire side of the body is affected, including the face, arm, and leg) and paraplegia
(in which both legs and sometimes the trunk are affected). In central paralysis
the tone of the muscles is increased, causing spasticity
If the peripheral nervous system is damaged, individual muscles or groups of muscles in a particular part of the body, rather than a whole limb, are more likely to be affected. The muscles are flaccid, and there is often impairment of sensation.
Causes of Central Paralysis
. stroke syndrome
is one of the most common causes of central paralysis. Although there is usually some permanent disability, much can be done to rehabilitate the patient. Paralysis produced by damage to the spinal cord can be the result of direct injuries, tumors, and infectious diseases. Paralysis in children may be a result of failure of the brain to develop properly in intrauterine life or of injuries to the brain, as in the case of cerebral palsy
. Congenital syphilis
may also leave a child partially paralyzed. Paralysis resulting from hysteria
has no organic basis and is a result of emotional disturbance or mental illness.
Causes of Peripheral Paralysis
. Until the recent development of immunizing vaccines, the most frequent cause of peripheral paralysis in children was poliomyelitis
, inflammation of a nerve, can also produce paralysis. Causes can be physical, as with cold or injury; chemical, as in lead poisoning; or disease states, such as diabetes mellitus or infection. Paralysis caused by neuritis frequently disappears when the disorder causing it is corrected.
paralysis of accommodation
paralysis of the ciliary muscles of the eye so as to prevent accommodation
ascending paralysis spinal paralysis that progresses upward.
birth paralysis that due to injury received at birth.
paralysis of an upper limb from damage to the brachial plexus
bulbar paralysis that due to changes in motor centers of the medulla oblongata; the chronic form is marked by progressive paralysis and atrophy of the lips, tongue, pharynx, and larynx, and is due to degeneration of the nerve nuclei of the floor of the fourth ventricle.
central paralysis any paralysis due to a lesion of the brain or spinal cord.
paralysis caused by an intracranial lesion; see also cerebral palsy
compression paralysis that caused by pressure on a nerve.
conjugate paralysis loss of ability to perform some parallel ocular movements.
crossed paralysis paralysis affecting one side of the face and the other side of the body.
crutch paralysis brachial paralysis caused by pressure from a crutch.
decubitus paralysis paralysis due to pressure on a nerve from lying for a long time in one position.
paralysis of the upper roots of the brachial plexus
due to destruction of the fifth and sixth cervical roots, without involvement of the small muscles of the hand. Called also Erb's palsy
weakening or paralysis of the facial nerve, as in bell's palsy
familial periodic paralysis a hereditary disease with recurring attacks of rapidly progressive flaccid paralysis, associated with a fall in (hypokalemic type), a rise in (hyperkalemic type), or normal (normokalemic type) serum potassium levels; all three types are inherited as autosomal dominant traits.
paralysis with loss of muscle tone of the paralyzed part and absence of tendon reflexes
infantile cerebral ataxic paralysis a congenital condition due to defective development of the frontal regions of the brain, affecting all extremities.
ischemic paralysis local paralysis due to stoppage of circulation.
Klumpke's paralysis (Klumpke-Dejerine paralysis) atrophic paralysis of the lower arm and hand, due to lesion of the eighth cervical and first dorsal thoracic nerves.
motor paralysis paralysis of the voluntary muscles.
1. any of various diseases characterized by episodic flaccid paralysis or muscular weakness.
Saturday night paralysis
paralysis of the extensor muscles of the wrist and fingers, so called because of its frequent occurrence in alcoholics. It is most often due to prolonged compression of the radial (musculospiral) nerve, and, depending upon the site of nerve injury, is sometimes accompanied by weakness and extension of the elbow. Called also musculospiral
or radial paralysis
sensory paralysis loss of sensation resulting from a morbid process.
paralysis occurring at awakening or sleep onset; it represents extension of the atonia of REM sleep
into the waking state and is often seen in those suffering from narcolepsy
or sleep apnea
. Called also waking paralysis
paralysis with rigidity of the muscles and heightened deep muscle reflexes and tendon reflexes
progressive ascending flaccid motor paralysis following the bite of certain ticks, usually Dermacentor andersoni;
first seen in children and domestic animals in the northern Pacific region of North America, and now seen in other parts of the world.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
paralysis (pa-ral'i-sis) (-sez?) plural.paralyses [Gr. paralyein, to disable]
1. Loss of sensation; anesthesia.
Loss of purposeful movement, usually as a result of neurological disease (such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, poliomyelitis), drugs, or toxins. Loss of motor function may be complete (paralysis) or partial (paresis), unilateral (hemiplegic) or bilateral (diplegic), confined to the lower extremities (paraplegic) or present in all four extremities (quadraplegic), accompanied by increased muscular tension and hyperactive reflexes (spastic) or by loss of reflexes and tone (flaccid). Synonym: palsy
Rehabilitation therapists evaluate the patient's motor and sensory capabilities (muscle size, tone and strength, reflex or involuntary movement, response to touch or to painful stimuli). The patient must be positioned to prevent deformities. Passive range of motion is performed on the involved extremities to prevent contractures. The patient is repositioned frequently to prevent pressure sores. Local and systemic responses, including fatigue, are evaluated. The rehabilitation team assesses and attends to any self-care deficits the patient may have. Support is offered to the patient and family to help them deal with psychological concerns and the response to grief and loss. Assistance is provided to help the patient in achieving an optimal level of function and in adapting to the disability.
Important concerns include functional positioning, the prevention of deformities secondary to spasticity, and the prevention of injury when sensation is absent. A plan may be prescribed for muscle reeducation and compensatory training. Functional orthoses and assistive technology devices may be necessary to assist the patient in performing self-care and other tasks of daily living.
paralysis of accommodation
Inability of the ciliary muscles to alter the lens to focus on near or far objects.
paralysis agitansParkinson disease.
Paralysis caused by the toxic effect of alcohol on spinal nerves. Synonym: alcoholic paraplegia
Loss of function due to nerve injury during delivery. Trauma to the baby during delivery may result in damage to the brachial nerves, facial nerves, or diaphragm. Asymmetrical movements or reflexes of the affected part are present. Prognosis depends on the amount of nerve damage sustained; permanent damage is rare. Most newborn paralyses resolve without sequelae within a few weeks or a few months after birth. Synonym: birth palsy
; brachial palsy
; obstetrical paralysis
Paralysis arising from an injury received at birth to the brachial nerve.
Paralysis of the face and an arm.
Paralysis caused by changes in the motor centers of the medulla oblongata. Synonym: progressive bulbar paralysis
Paralysis in which there is total loss of function and sensation.
Paralysis due to prolonged pressure on a nerve, e.g., from improper use of a crutch or during sleep. Synonym: pressure palsy; pressure paralysis
Paralysis of the conjugate movement of the eyes in all directions even though the fixation axis remains parallel.
Paralysis affecting muscles of one side of the face and those in the limbs on the opposite side of the body.
Paralysis due to pressure on nerves in the axilla caused by improper use of a crutch.
Paralysis caused by compression of a nerve after lying on it, e.g., in sleep or a coma.
Paralysis of the muscles of the palate, eyes, limbs, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles as a complication of diphtheria. It is caused by a bacterial toxin. Synonym: postdiphtheritic paralysis
diver's paralysisDecompression illness.
Duchenne-Erb paralysis See: Duchenne-Erb paralysis
facial paralysisBell palsy.
facial nerve paralysisBell palsy.
familial periodic paralysis
A rare familial disease marked by attacks of flaccid paralysis, often at awakening. This condition is usually associated with hypokalemia but is sometimes present when the blood potassium level is normal or elevated. In affected individuals the condition may be precipitated by administration of glucose in patients with hypokalemia, and by administation of potassium chloride in those with hyperkalemia.
Acetazolamide is used to prevent either hypokalemia or hyperkalemia. Oral potassium chloride is given in attacks accompanied by hypokalemia.
Paralysis in which there is loss of muscle tone, loss or reduction of tendon reflexes, and atrophy and degeneration of muscles. It is caused by lesions of the lower motor neurons of the spinal cord.
ginger paralysisJamaica ginger paralysis.
Paralysis of the tongue and lips occurring in bulbar paralysis.
Gubler paralysis See: Gubler, Adolphe
A rare form of periodic paralysis characterized by brief (1- to 2-hr) attacks of limb weakness. Respiratory muscles are involved in some cases. “Hyperkalemic” is misleading because the potassium levels may be normal. But, because an attack is precipitated by the administration of potassium, this form of paralysis is better termed “potassium-sensitive periodic paralysis.”
Emergency treatment is seldom necessary. Oral glucose hastens recovery. Attacks may be prevented by acetazolamide or thiazide diuretics.
hypokalemic periodic paralysis
A form of periodic paralysis with onset usually before adulthood. An attack typically comes on during sleep, after strenuous exercise during the day. The weakness may be so pronounced as to prevent the patient from being able to call for help. The attack may last from several hours to a day or more. The diagnosis is established by determining that the serum potassium level is decreased during an attack.
Administration of oral potassium salts improves the paralysis. If the patient is too weak to swallow, intravenous potassium salts are required. Attacks may be prevented by oral administration of 5 to 10 g of potassium chloride daily.
Loss of movement without a demonstrable organic cause. Typically the patient's reflexes are preserved in the affected body part despite its apparent immobility, and bowel and bladder function are preserved. In Western medicine, functional disorders such as this are treated with occupational therapy or supportive psychotherapy; in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used. See: Hoover sign
The inability to form antibodies after exposure to large doses of an antigen.
Partial paralysis of the body or a part.
infantile cerebral ataxic paralysisCerebral palsy.
ischemic paralysisVolkmann contracture.
Jamaica ginger paralysis
Paralysis due to polyneuropathy that affects the muscles of the distal portions of the limbs. It is caused by drinking Jamaica ginger, an alcoholic beverage containing the toxin triorthocresylphosphate.
Klumpke paralysis See: Klumpke paralysis
Flaccid paralysis that begins in the lower extremities and rapidly ascends to the trunk.
Loss of vocal fold mobility. Common causes include surgical trauma to the recurrent laryngeal nerve or invasion of the nerve by a tumor. Synonym: vocal paralysis
Paralysis due to lead poisoning.
Extreme fatigue, a symptom of atypical depression.
Paralysis of a single muscle or one group of muscles.
Paralysis of the facial muscles.
Paralysis of the motor and sensory nerves.
Loss of the capacity of muscles to contract. It may be due to a structural or functional disorder in the muscle at the myoneural junction, in efferent nerve fibers, in cell bodies of nuclei of origin of the brain or of the gray matter of the spinal cord, in conducting pathways of the brain or spinal cord, or in motor centers of the brain.
musculospiral paralysisSaturday night palsy.
Paralysis caused by lesion of nuclei in the central nervous system.
obstetrical paralysisBirth paralysis.
Paralysis of the extraocular and intraocular muscles.
postdiphtheritic paralysisDiphtheritic paralysis.
Paralysis of the posterior cricothyroid muscles.
potassium-sensitive periodic paralysis See: hyperkalemic paralysis
Pott paralysis See: Pott, John Percivall
pressure paralysisCompression paralysis.
primary periodic paralysis
The occurrence of intermittent weakness, usually following rest or sleep and almost never during vigorous activity. The condition usually begins in early life and rarely has its onset after age 25. The attacks may last from a few hours to a day or more. The patient is alert during an attack.
The causes include hypokalemia, hyperkalemia, thyrotoxicosis, and a form of paramyotonia. Both forms of the disease in which potassium regulation is a factor respond to acetazolamide. The thyrotoxicosis-related disorder is treated by correcting the underlying thyrotoxicosis. Spironolactone is the treatment for cases of paramyotonia congenita with periodic paralysis.
progressive bulbar paralysisBulbar paralysis.
Paralysis caused by cerebral center lesions, simulating the bulbar types of paralysis.
pseudohypertrophic muscular paralysis See: pseudohypertrophic muscular dystrophy
radial paralysisSaturday night palsy..
Saturday night paralysisSaturday night palsy.
Loss of sensation due to a structural or functional disorder of the sensory end organs, sensory nerves, conducting pathways of the spinal cord or brain, or the sensory centers in the brain.
Brief, temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep or awakening.
Paralysis usually involving groups of muscles. It is caused by an upper motor neuron lesion and is characterized by excessive tone and spasticity of muscles, exaggeration of tendon reflexes but loss of superficial reflexes, and positive Babinski reflex.
Sunday morning paralysisSaturday night palsy..
Paralysis resulting from disorders in pathways or centers above the nuclei of origin.
Paralysis resulting from bites of some species of ticks whose saliva contains a toxin, esp. of the genera Ixodes and Dermacentor. It affects domestic animals and humans, esp. children, and causes a progressive ascending, flaccid motor paralysis. Recovery usually occurs after removal of the ticks.
Todd paralysis See: Todd paralysis
Paralysis, esp. of the arm, resulting from a tourniquet being applied for too long a time.
Paralysis of the vasomotor centers, resulting in lack of tone and dilation of the blood vessels.
vocal paralysisLaryngeal paralysis.
Volkmann paralysisVolkmann contracture.
wasting paralysisSpinal muscular atrophy.
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