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.
Patient discussion about waking paralysis
Q. I go to sleep & use to wake up paralyzed in my sleep. I go to sleep & use to wake up paralyzed in my sleep. But not asleep, just laying there, eyes wide open paralyzed. I couldn't breath, I couldn't speak, move anything but my eyes. I could look around but I couldn't even breathe. This has happened a few times in my old house, once in my mother's house (she lived by the side of a graveyard), and then only once in my new house. What is it and what do you think is causing it?
A. I had the same problem but never at night...and it only happened during the day when I take nap. I will wake up and I can't move or talk, I can't open my eyes either. I've never been able to snap out of it though, I just have to lay there until I go back to sleep, and usually it doesn't happen when I wake up the next time. Needless to say I try NOT to take naps anymore, because it happens nearly every time.More discussions about waking paralysis
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