Paralysis can be caused due to various reasons, and the most common reasons are any form of injury to the spinal cord or head, stroke and multiple sclerosis. At the moment, there is no cure available for paralysis yet. While this can be a difficult thing to live with, especially if you or your loved one have suffered a paralytic attack, there are various aids and methods that can bring some improvement in the condition.
Here are some methods that can help the patient cope better and aid in recovery.
1. Mobility Aids
Mobility aids refer to the aids such as wheelchairs and braces that will help the patient move around from one place to the other. These can be operated individually or may require the help of another person or carer.
Wheelchairs are mainly of two types manual and electric. The manual wheelchairs are good for those patients who have good strength in their upper body and will be able to operate the wheelchair themselves, without any assistance. The electric wheelchairs are good for those patients who do not have enough strength in their upper bodies or those who may be suffering from paralysis in all their limbs, a condition is known as quadriplegia.
A new type of wheelchair is available these days, known as the standing wheelchair, which allows a patient to get up from a sitting position and stand. However, these are not yet available everywhere and are quite expensive. You can check with your doctor to know more about where you can get one if you are interested.
Braces Or Orthoses
Orthoses are a type of braces and are a good alternative to using a wheelchair. Orthoses are mainly made of plastic or metal and can help the patient improve muscle strength as well as improve the mobility in a particular limb that has been affected.
Some of the most common types of orthoses include:
- Ankle foot orthoses to help a patient suffering from paralysis in the lower limb and foot. It can help the patient move the feet properly and aid in walking.
- Wrist hand orthoses to help a patient suffering from paralysis around the hand and wrist area. It can help the patient use force from the wrist to the fingers and improve grip.
- Knee ankle feet orthoses are used to help a patient who is suffering from paralysis in the lower limb or in all the four limbs, also known as quadriplegia.
There is a new type of orthoses available now that uses an electrode technology. It has small metallic discs attached to it that stick to the skin and transfers electrical current to the muscles of the arms and the legs. The currents from the metallic disc help to create movement in the muscles of the affected area, just the way the brain would have sent out the signals.
Just using orthoses can exert the patient, so a better option is to try using a wheelchair as well as orthoses depending on need and usage. You can also check with the doctor to understand what would be a better option depending on the overall condition and health of the patient.
2. Assistive Aids
Assistive aids refer to the different types of technological devices that can help the patient do various activities independently and also help improve their mobility and functional skills.
Here are a few types of assistive aids that are available for those patients who suffer from paralysis. You can speak to your doctor to understand what device will work best and how to source it.
- Environmental control units are a type of control units that get activated by voice commands. These can be very helpful for the patient as they can easily operate a host of devices using such voice activated control units. Some devices that can be operated using environmental control units are telephone, lighting system, temperature control and such.
- Specially adapted computers are available that come with voice activated control as well as other functional options to choose from. There are some special keyboards that can be operated by holding a stick in the mouth. There is also the option of controlling the mouse by wearing a headband around the head that has a laser beam attached to it.
3. Managing Pain
When there is nerve damage as a result of paralysis that is caused due to some injury, especially injury to the spinal cord, it can lead to pain in the nerves. Most painkillers will not be effective on neuropathic pain, so your doctor may prescribe you alternative medicines that can help.
- Alternative medicines used to treat the pain can have side effects such as excessive dryness in the mouth, drowsiness, unexplained sweating, problems with vision, and so on.
- Your doctor will suggest you take the medication for some time to understand the side effects and see if they get better with time. If not, the medicines or dosage may be changed.
4. Managing Breathing Issues
Paralysis of the upper neck that is caused by any spinal injury can cause paralysis in the diaphragm. As a result, the patient can have difficulty in breathing and will require help in the form of a ventilator. Your doctor will suggest one of the two options as mentioned below.
- Using a negative pressure ventilator that will create a vacuum near the lung area and help your chest expand. This will also help to inhale more.
- Using a positive pressure ventilator that will help to push oxygen towards the lungs.
5. Managing Coughing
Paralysis also causes problems with coughing, when the patient wants to cough but finds it difficult to do so. This can become a serious health hazard because when the patient is not able to cough out any build-up of mucus or secretions from the lungs, it can make the lungs congested and lead to a lung infection.
- A carer can help the patient cough by applying pressure around the stomach area as the patient tries to cough.
- Specialized vests are available that apply pressure around the lungs and help a patient cough.
- Drinking a lot of water can help dilute the phlegm and make it easier to pass out.
6. Managing Muscle Spasm
Those who suffer from paralysis often experience stiffness and muscle spasms. In some cases, these can help the patient, as the person can find it easier to move. In other cases, the doctor will suggest other alternatives.
- A muscle relaxant will help ease the stiffness and make it easier for the patient to move, as well as avoid pain.
- Botulinum toxin (Botox) can be injected to treat localized spasms as it blocks the signals that come from the brain to the affected area.
- Intrathecal baclofen therapy is a type of surgical procedure in which the doctor will implant a small pump on the patient’s body on the exterior, and connect it to the spinal cord.
A professional caregiver can help take care of most of the caring needs for a paralysis patient at home. You can book an appointment today on our website, and also speak to the doctor for various treatment options.