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Right Hemiplegia: Causes, Recovery Outlook, and Treatment

outline of body with right side highlighted to illustrate right hemiplegia

Right hemiplegia refers to paralysis of the right side of the body after damage to the brain or spinal cord. Fortunately, there are rehabilitation methods that can help you regain movement on the right side.

While hemiplegia can affect either side of the body, this article will specifically focus on right-sided hemiplegia. To help you understand what right hemiplegia is and what to expect, this article will discuss its:

Causes of Right Hemiplegia

Although right hemiplegia affects the muscles on the right side of the body, the underlying cause is damage to the nervous system. Most commonly, it occurs when the parts of the brain that control movement such as the motor cortex become damaged.

Common causes of right hemiplegia include neurological disorders such as:

  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease
  • Brain infections
  • Brain tumors
  • Spinal cord injury

Each hemisphere of the brain controls movement on the opposite side of the body. Therefore, two common causes of right hemiplegia are left hemisphere stroke and left hemisphere brain injury because this can affect movement on the right side of the body.

Often, weakness of the muscles on one side of the body is defined as hemiparesis whereas paralysis of the muscles on one side of the body is known as hemiplegia. However, when individuals with cerebral palsy experience motor impairments on one side of the body, it is referred to as spastic hemiplegia, even if they can still move their affected limbs to some degree.

Although hemiplegia is most commonly caused by damage to the brain, it can also occur after spinal cord injury. Each side of the spinal cord controls movement on the same side of the body. If the right side of the spinal cord is damaged (a rare condition known as Brown Sequard Syndrome) it can result in right hemiplegia.

Fortunately, the central nervous system has the ability to heal and rewire itself. This phenomenon plays a central role in the outlook and rehabilitation process for right hemiplegia.

Right Hemiplegia Recovery Outlook

Most people are right-handed, which means that right hemiplegia often creates more challenges with daily activities than left hemiplegia.

While living with paralysis on the right side of your body can be challenging, some individuals are able to improve their mobility, sometimes significantly, by harnessing the central nervous system’s ability to rewire itself, which is a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. It allows for functions affected by central nervous system damage to be rewired to unaffected regions and strengthened through repetitive practice, or “massed practice.”

Consistent and repetitive practice stimulates the central nervous system while reinforcing the importance and need of a specific function. Therefore, to improve and regain any skill (whether it be movement, memory, or problem-solving), consistent repetition is necessary. The more you practice, the more the central nervous system adapts.

Specifically, individuals with right hemiplegia patients should practice rehabilitation exercises that target the right side of the body. By stimulating the right side with movement, you can help the brain and/or spinal cord rewire itself. This is not to say that the left side of the body should be ignored, as moving both sides of the body through bilateral movement (movement that requires use of both sides of the body) is always beneficial, but emphasizing right-sided exercise is key to regaining movement on the right side.

The following section will share some exercises that can help you improve motor control on your right side.

Treatment of Paralysis on Right Side of Body

Treatment for paralysis on the right side of the body should focus on promoting neuroplasticity through highly repetitive practice. By working with rehabilitation specialists like physical and occupational therapists, individuals with right hemiplegia can learn exercises and activities that target their affected side.

Additionally, occupational therapists can teach you helpful ways to maximize your independence and compensate for limited movement in your right side. For example, they may recommend using adaptive tools.

To begin rehabilitation for right hemiplegia, we recommend passive exercise. Passive exercise involves assisting your limbs through the movements. You can either use your left side to assist your right side, or you can enlist the help of a therapist/caregiver.

Although you aren’t “doing it yourself,” passive movement helps stimulate the brain and spark neuroplasticity. Results may come slowly, but don’t give up.

You can boost your chances of recovery by combining passive exercises with other therapies. For instance, electrical stimulation and mental practice are both proven to help with right-sided hemiplegia recovery.

Also, high-tech rehab tools like Flint Rehab’s FitMi help you achieve the high repetition of exercise you need to recover. Many people have recovered from right hemiplegia by using the device.

For example, here’s John’s story of how he overcame right-sided hemiplegia with FitMi:

Right Hemiplegia Recovery Time

It can be challenging to determine how long it takes to recover movement after right hemiplegia. Since every neurological injury is different, everyone recovers at different speeds. However, there are some patterns worth noting.

Following neurological injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, the central nervous system experiences a temporary increase in neuroplasticity as the brain attempts to stabilize itself. This makes it easier for individuals to relearn and improve affected functions. It is also why the most recovery tends to occur within the first several months after their injury.

However, that is not to say recovery after the first few months, or even the first year, is impossible. Neuroplasticity is an ongoing process that occurs throughout life. Therefore, as long as you stimulate undamaged regions of the central nervous system through repetitive, task-specific practice, there is potential to improve.

While there’s no guarantee that everyone will recover from right hemiplegia, there are many cases where patients beat the odds and regain more movement than doctors expected. You’ll never know how close you can get to a full recovery unless you try.

Understanding Right Hemiplegia: Key Points

Right hemiplegia describes paralysis on the right side of the body due to neurological damage. Thanks to neuroplasticity (the central nervous system’s ability to rewire itself), there is hope for recovery from right hemiplegia.

Treatment should involve passive rehabilitation exercises that target the right side of the body. Rehab technology like Flint Rehab’s FitMi can improve chances of recovery by motivating you to move. When you put in the work, there’s always hope for recovery.

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Get Inspired with This Stroke Survivor Story

Mom gets better every day!

When my 84-year-old Mom had a stoke on May 2, the right side of her body was rendered useless. In the past six months, she has been blessed with a supportive medical team, therapy team, and family team that has worked together to gain remarkable results.

While she still struggles with her right side, she can walk (with assistance) and is beginning to get her right arm and hand more functional. We invested in the FitMi + MusicGlove + Tablet bundle for her at the beginning of August.

She lights up when we bring it out and enjoys using it for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. While she still doesn’t have enough strength to perform some of the exercises, she rocks the ones she can do!

Thanks for creating such powerful tools to help those of us caring for stroke patients. What you do really matters!

David M. Holt’s review of FitMi home therapy, 11/09/2020

5 stars

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