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Paralysis is a complete loss of strength in an affected limb or muscle group.
The types of paralysis are classified by region:
•monoplegia, affecting only one limb
•diplegia, affecting the same body region on both sides of the body (both arms, for example, or both sides of the face)
•hemiplegia, affecting one side of the body
•paraplegia, affecting both legs and the trunk
•quadriplegia, affecting all four limbs and the trunk
Persons most commonly affected: All age groups.
Organ or part of body involved: Muscles
Symptoms and indications: Loss of body control and/or feeling.
Causes and risk factors: Paralysis is most often caused by damage in the nervous system, especially the spinal cord. Major causes are stroke, trauma with nerve injury, poliomyelitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), botulism, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Temporary paralysis occurs during REM sleep, and dysregulation of this system can lead to episodes of waking paralysis. Drugs that interfere with nerve function, such as curare, can also cause paralysis. Many causes of this are varied, and could also be unknown.
Pseudoparalysis (pseudo- meaning false, not genuine) is voluntary restriction or inhibition of motion because of pain, incoordination, or other cause, and is not due to actual muscular paralysis. In an infant, it may be a symptom of congenital syphilis.
Prevention: Prevention of paralysis depends on prevention of the underlying causes. Risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Seat-belts, air bags, and helmets reduce the risk of injury from motor vehicle accidents and falls. Good prenatal care can help prevent premature birth, which is a common cause of cerebral palsy.