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Hemiplegia is paralysis of one side of the body vertically; meaning the arm and leg on one side of the body are paralyzed. Hemiplegia cerebral palsy occurs as a result of brain damage to the movement centers of the brain.

Whichever side of the brain is affected, the opposite side of the body is paralyzed. Therefore, if the right side of the brain is damaged, the left arm and leg are paralyzed. It is more common for the arm to be affected than the leg.

The ends of the limbs — the hands and feet — have more problems than the rest of the limbs.

Spasticity is the most common form of hemiplegia. Muscles don't develop properly because of the spasticity, the affected side has reduced range of movement and the joints grow increasingly stiff.

Signs and Symptoms of Hemiplegia

According to Clinical Perinatology, congenital hemiplegia is the most common form of cerebral palsy in children who are born at term. The primary cause of the hemiplegia is stroke in the fetus or newborn. The stroke often results from an occluded or blocked artery which interrupts the flow of blood to the brain. This type of occlusion also is the most common cause of stroke in the elderly.

A study was done in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of northern California of 200,000 children born between 1997 and 2000. The number of babies born with hemiplegia was 20 of the 200,000. The researchers also used imaging of the brain to see areas of damage. Some of the risk factors they found for hemiplegia and cerebral palsy in newborns were:

  • First born children
  • Children born to mothers with a history of preeclampsia or infertility
  • Emergency cesarean section
  • Prolonged rupture of membranes
  • Prolonged second stage labor
  • Vacuum extraction

The researchers found risk factors specific to the newborns were heart anomalies, inflammation of the placenta, and umbilical cord abnormalities.

Children with hemiplegia have problems with:

  • Fine motor skills such as writing or using a scissors
  • Walking and balance
  • Muscles on one side of the body being stiff and weak
  • Seizures
  • Reaching developing milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, smiling, reaching for an object and turning the head towards a noise
  • About a quarter of children with spastic hemiplegia have an IQ below 70, according to the Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association

Help for Parents

If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you might be eligible for compensation to pay for expensive treatments and care. To learn more, contact our cerebral palsy attorneys today.