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What Are the Benefits of Physiotherapy for Hemiplegia?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Physiotherapy for hemiplegia might stretch affected muscles, improve balance, and reduce the number of involuntary spasms. Treatment might also ease pain and help patients regain function of affected limbs. Physiotherapy for hemiplegia consists of exercises to improve muscle tone and range of movement. It might also include hydrotherapy, the use of braces or splints, and electrical stimulation.

Hemiplegia occurs on one side of the body when brain damage occurs from birth defects, injury, or stroke. The area of the brain suffering injury affects the opposite side of the body, which might occur in the upper limbs or lower extremities. Joints may rotate inward and muscles might contract at will. Without physiotherapy for hemiplegia, muscles might become too short to bear weight or allow normal movement.

Therapists commonly use stretching exercises and massage to improve muscle tone and prevent atrophy of joints and muscle groups. Weight-bearing exercises represent another common technique in physiotherapy for hemiplegia treatment. The therapist aims to ease muscle spasms and return normal control of motor functions.

These therapies might also involve retraining the patient to restore balance in the upper or lower segments of the body. A wheelchair-bound patient might find it easier to reach for objects and get dressed independently if balance improves in the upper body. Ambulatory hemiplegia patients might experience an improved gait and decreased risk of falling.

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A common cause of hemiplegia in adults occurs after stroke, a condition caused by a blood clot in the brain. Stroke victims might suffer weakness in one side of the body that limits movement. Speech and vision might be affected in some patients, with shoulder pain a common complaint. Physiotherapy for hemiplegia related to stroke might reduce pain and improve functioning, especially if used with electrical stimulation.

Children with hemiplegia might suffer brain damage during birth or from deformity during fetal development. Medical experts are unsure why the disorder occurs, but higher risks exist in premature infants, and genetics might play a role. Cerebral palsy represents one form of the condition treated with physiotherapy. Therapists commonly use splints and braces for this hemiplegia condition to force extension of joints and strengthen muscles.

Physiotherapy for hemiplegia might be carried out with other forms of therapy, such as speech and occupational therapies. In some patients, botulism injections might ease muscle spasms. Surgery is sometimes performed to stretch short muscles that have shrunk from lack of use.

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