Hemiplegia and hemiparesis might sound very similar, but they have completely different meanings. In this article, you’ll learn the difference between hemiplegia vs hemiparesis after stroke and how to treat both of these stroke side effects.
To put it simply, we’ll break down the word parts and then establish what the word means. “Hemi” means “half” and “plegia” means “paralysis or stroke.” So when combined, hemiplegia means that half your body is paralyzed due to a stroke.
Although “paresis” also sounds like paralyzation, it actually means “weakness or partial loss of movement.” So hemiparesis occurs when half of your body is weakened or has suffered partial loss of movement. Hemiparesis is a less severe form of hemiplegia.
Treating Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis after Stroke
There are 3 ways to treat hemiplegia and hemiparesis after stroke.
If you remember one thing, remember this: Do NOT neglect paralyzed limbs. Here’s why. If paralyzed or weakened limbs are neglected, it can lead to muscle stiffness and even muscle contractures, which is the hardening of the muscle. Yikes!
Instead, make sure that you get your affected limbs moving through either passive or active exercises. Stroke survivors with hemiparesis can benefit from active range of motion exercises that can help strengthen the weakened muscles. Survivors with hemiplegia can also benefit from rehab exercises if they have some small movements that can be strengthened, too.
In some cases, the use of supportive braces (or orthotics) are needed to maintain proper joint alignment. For example, if your foot is weakened and you suffer from foot drop, the use of a supportive foot brace (or an ankle-foot orthotic) might be needed. In other cases, the use of a sling might be needed if the ligaments in the shoulder are no longer able to hold the upper arm bone in its socket.
For stroke survivors with hemiplegia, some compensatory techniques might be necessary. Around the house, adaptive equipment can help you get from one place to another safely and surely. In your wardrobe, adaptive clothing can provide necessary convenience and even allow you to change your full wardrobe from a completely seated position.
Now that you know the difference between hemiparesis vs hemiplegia after stroke, don’t let the medical terms overwhelm you. Talk with your doctor or therapists to see how you can successfully treat your hemiparesis or hemiplegia so that you can achieve the highest recovery possible.