What is Flaccid Paralysis?

There are many different types of spinal cord trauma and subsequent injuries. One type of spinal cord injury that a person might sustain is flaccid paralysis. If your loved one has been diagnosed with flaccid paralysis, or if you suspect that he or she has this condition, you probably want to learn more about it. Here, I will provide information about what characterizes flaccid paralysis, common causes of this issue, symptoms, and what you can do to help your loved one.

Defining Flaccid Paralysis

Flaccid paralysis is a condition that causes a person to lose control of their muscles. The person’s muscles become very weak and the person loses their muscle tone. Muscles can’t contract and will appear limp in a person who has flaccid paralysis. Flaccid paralysis is a unique condition because it generally does not have an obvious cause. It might develop as a result of certain trauma or a disease that impacts the nerves that control muscle movement. Flaccid paralysis usually results from trauma to the somatic nerves, which control muscle movement.

Flaccid paralysis can range in severity depending on which nerves are affected. In serious cases, this condition can lead to death. This is especially something to watch out for if a person’s respiratory muscles are affected because they could suffocate and die.

Common Causes

If the anterior spinal artery becomes blocked, it can cause flaccid paralysis. This issue is also referred to as anterior spinal artery syndrome. Many different things might block this artery, including:

  • Arterial disease
  • Cancer
  • An accident that causes trauma to the nervous system/spine
  • Thrombosis

Other common causes of this type of paralysis include:

  • Hyperkalemia: This symptom causes your body to contain higher levels of potassium than normal.
  • Japanese Encephalitis: This is a type of encephalitis that is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. This causes inflammation of the brain.
  • Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis: This is a muscle condition that can cause episodes of muscle weakness and paralysis. Episodes can last for hours or even days. This condition is hereditary.
  • Central Pontine Myelinolysis: In this condition, the protective layer surrounding brainstem nerve cells becomes destroyed. When this happens, transmitting nerve signals is interrupted.
  • West Nile Virus: This virus can also cause acute flaccid paralysis. West nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

Common Symptoms

If you suspect that your loved one has flaccid paralysis, pay special attention to their limbs. Limp or floppy limbs are one of the most common symptoms of this issue. Other symptoms might include:

  • Reduced muscle tone
  • Fever
  • The worsening of paralysis in the body, especially a person’s limbs
  • Sensory loss
  • Cramps
  • Tingling of body parts, such as feet and hands
  • Respiratory issues
  • Bladder issues

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in a loved one, make sure that they see a doctor as soon as possible. A doctor can provide a proper diagnosis, whether that is of this issue or some other condition. A doctor should use special testing to determine if your loved one has flaccid paralysis and the location of this condition in the body.

Flaccid Paralysis Treatment

Flaccid paralysis is commonly treated through physical therapy. A physical therapist will work with your loved one to help them regain the use of their muscles to whatever extent is possible. This is done by establishing correct movement patterns and reinforcing them in your loved one.

If your loved one is diagnosed with flaccid paralysis, your family life will likely change. You will have to become a caregiver for your loved one to some extent, helping them with tasks that they cannot perform on their own. You might be asked to continue your loved one’s physical therapy work with them at home.

If you need more information on how to help your loved one with this issue, you can contact me. I am happy to discuss your loved one’s condition and provide more resources for your situation.

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