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Paralysis

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PARALYSIS.

Paralysis comes from a Greek verb mean ing to relax or disable at the side. Paresis and palsy are terms also used to imply the same condition of loss of power. The paralysis may mean loss of power of moving, or loss of power of feeling. In some diseases both occur, and the paralysis is said to be perfect or com plete. In other diseases only one may occur, and the paralysis is said to be imperfect or in complete, and then paralysis. of motion is spoken of, or paralysis of sensation, as the case may be. Paralysis of sensation is also called anesthesia.

Paralysis may arise from disease of the brain, disease of the spinal cord, diseases of nerves or of muscles, dr may be due to poisons, especially to lead poisoning. According to the seat of the disease is the nature and extent of the paralysis.

Hemiplegia is a paralysis of motion limited to one side of the body. In it the power of mov ing voluntarily the muscles of the affected side is lost. It is due to disease of the brain. Now it has been mentioned (p. 150) that the corpora striata at the base of the brain are to be re garded as the centres for motion, and that when we will to move any part of the body the im pulse descends from the cerebral hemisphere to the corpus striatum, and is transmitted by it down the spinal cord and out by nerves to the muscles that are to be moved. It was also mentioned that the fibres that carry such im pulses from the corpus striatum cross over from one side to the other in the medulla ob. longata, so that impulses from the right cor pus striatum pass to the left side of the body, and from the left corpus striatum to the right side of the body. Thus any disease on the right side of the brain, which prevents the impulse from the will reaching the corpus striatum, or any disease which injures the corpus, or which prevents the impulse trans mitted from it reaching the spinal cord, will produce paralysis—hemiplegia— of the left side of the body, while any disease in similar posi tions on the left side of the brain will produce paralysis of the right side of the body. The

disease is generally due to the bursting of a blood-vessel, the blood from which forces its way among the delicate nervous structure.

destroying it ; or it may be due to a blood-vessel being blocked, for instance by a small clot of blood sent from the heart, a condition fre quently caused by rheumatic fever, and called embolism. When a clot is the cause of the paralysis the area of brain substance supplied by the blocked vessel is suddenly deprived of its accustomed quantity of blood, and is thus rendered incapable of performing its duties. Symptoms. —The paralysis may come on suddenly without consciousness being lost, the person suddenly discovering that he has lost the power of one side. It may come on with giddiness and confusion of thought, or with a severe pain in the head, or with sickness, pallor, and faintness, or with entire loss of consciousness. In sonic cases the paralysis is at first slight, but progresses, and passes on to unconsciousness, which may be recovered from, the paralysis of one side remaining ; or it may deepen into death. In an ordinary case the one side of the body will be found powerless, though feeling remains, the same side of the face is paralysed, and the active muscles of the opposite side consequently pull the face to that side, so that the face is twisted. There is thickness and indistinctness of speech, and when the person puts out his tongue it is pointed towards the paralysed side, because one half of it is paralysed. In less severe cases some power may be left in the leg, though the arm may be quite useless. The mind may be affected, but is frequently ap parently not so. In favourable cases recovery begins in the leg. Recovery may be complete, or only up to a certain point, or not at all. In stead of recovering, the paralysed limbs may become rigid, the mind enfeebled, and the body fail, so that bed-sores form. Other at tacks are apt to follow the first.

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