Hemiplegia, is a form of paralysis, where “hemi” means “half” and “plegia” means “paralysis”. An incurable neurological condition that affects one half of the body resulting in varying degree of weakness and lack of control of that side is its hallmark. In this condition, either the left or right side of the brain is damaged before or during birth or as a result of a stroke 1, accident, tumor, or brain infection. It most commonly occurs before or during birth, and about 1 in every 1,000 children is diagnosed with hemiplegia.
It often occurs with epilepsy too, but affects every child differently. While some children only experience limb weakness, others may show serious loss of power in the limbs. Furthermore, in some children, the leg is affected more than the arm and vice versa.
Although permanent, this condition is non-progressive, which means that it will not get worse overtime, and appropriate therapy may help in diminishing the symptoms. While living with hemiplegia can be difficult, it is certainly not impossible. Professional help from physiotherapists and experienced speech therapy and occupational therapy specialists can be of tremendous help.
Here are some pointers to get you started in your journey to getting your loved one back on their feet:
1. Support system
It is your responsibility to be the support system for your loved one. Talk to your healthcare provider, another hemiplegic person, your family and friends to get involved and help you and your family member cope. In addition, there are various Facebook and other social media support groups and events that will help you help your loved one get involved in various fun and engaging activities. Don’t let the morale flag.
2. Medical services and early intervention
Typically, hemiplegic children are diagnosed at birth or right after during routine visits. Thus, early-life routine visits are extremely vital to monitor your child’s brain, body, and physical development. Early interventions lead to early diagnosis and better long term results.
3. Learn the lingo
Hemiplegic patients can be irritable and quick-to-anger. Various studies have attributed this behavior to be a response to their physical disability. It is important you study their different moods and behavior and make them understand that you are with them no matter what. Patience is the key in this case.
4. Enjoy with your baby while making them learn
Work with your child’s teacher at school and acknowledge the fact that the children are not fully responsible for their irritable behavior. Parents, young people, and teachers need to work together to find creative ways for helping the children learn to manage behavior and cope when things don’t go as they want. This means to change the expectations of your child and work on strategies to find ways to respond to their behavior so that it doesn’t recur.
5. Don’t blame yourself
Remember, this is not your fault and could have just as well happened to someone else. Once you stop blaming yourself, you will actually be able to figure out solutions to solve the concerns at hand. As a parent, it is natural for you to expect that your baby too will talk, be potty trained, learn, walk, drive, go to college, and eventually be independent, like any other child. Avoid comparing your child’s abilities and progress to those of other children. Remember that every child is unique and most children with hemiplegia get potty trained and go to college too. Just because your child may learn all these things a little later than their friends, doesn’t make them any lesser accomplished a being.
Actively help your child instead of blaming yourself, and you will definitely see positive results.