Paralysis means a loss of sensation and control of a certain organ, most commonly a limb. Paralysis can occur due to various reasons like stroke, injury to the spinal cord, head injury, etc. Depending on the site of damage in the brain or spinal cord, areas affected with paralysis might differ.
Attending to a loved one that is suffering from paralysis can be taxing both mentally and physically. While it is important to attend to their physical disability, you also need to ensure optimal mental health. However, keeping some important points will help ensure that you provide them care at home equivalent to a hospital.
Some do’s and don’ts that will make it easy for you to provide home care for a paralysed patients:
1. Do shift and turn
Do not allow the person to lie in the same position for over 2-3 hours continuously as they may develop pressure ulcers or bed sores. If they are lying on the back, change the position to either side for a few hours daily. You can even use air or water beds to prevent bed sores. The continuous pressure over one area, e.g. buttocks, leads to compression of local blood vessels and in turn can lead to ulcer formation. If the person already has pressure ulcers, ensure you clean them with savlon 2-3 times daily with a clean cotton ball to prevent infection and hasten recovery.
2. Don’t forget Exercise
If only the right or left side, or a localized region is affected by paralysis, make sure that the area is not neglected. Exercise those muscles regularly to keep them in shape, as it is a normal human tendency to use muscles that are functioning well and neglect those that are not. Muscle wasting can occur when muscles are not used, but regular exercise may help in regaining some or complete strength by repeated stimulation.
3. Avoid falls & Accidents
Special care must be taken so as to minimize the risk of fall or accidents. These risks increase manifold because of the person’s inability to control their movements. This can be done by installing grab bars in the bathroom, along staircases, and in the person’s room. A fall or accident might slow the process of recovery or result in fractures. Using a cane or walker as a support is a great way to avoid falls, yet allow freedom of movement and independence.
4. Use Assistive devices
Everyday life chores like eating, bathing, getting dressed, etc. also require assistance. There are devices like reachers, sock aids, etc. that assist in getting dressed by oneself in partially paralysed persons. Some persons lose bladder control, and regularly need catheterization to prevent bed wetting. Learn from a professional nurse or doctor, or have a trained nurse come home each week to do the needful.
5. Do get some fresh air
Do not keep the person confined in the house or a room. Try and take them out as much as possible, so that they get some fresh air and maintain social contact. This is extremely important as being home bound can easily spiral into depression, suicidal thoughts, etc.
6. Do listen and talk to the patient
Often speech is slurred due to facial paralysis. The person might not be able to express pain, or other needs clearly. These times are testing especially when you are in a hurry, but you need to be patient, talk slowly, and listen carefully. Once you get used to this, it will be easier. Talk with the person at every opportunity, make them participate in talks whenever possible. Keep them updated about the neighbourhood or general things happening around so that they don’t feel left out. Sit and talk aloud to them with happenings of the family and world, even if they can’t respond. Arrange a family get together so that the patient also feels wanted and desires to get well soon. Consulting a professional psychologist can help both the person as well as the caregiver.
7. Don’t give up – Encourage the patient
The most important thing you must do is to be supportive and encourage the person toward the path of recovery with a don’t give up attitude and inculcate the same in the person.