Startling and frightening to any person is sudden loss of ability to move any portion of the body that one moves voluntarily. The anxiety associated with sudden loss of ability to see, or hear, or taste, or feel heat or pain, strikes terrible dismay. Yet these conditions are frequent enough to warrant the assurance that good medical care can do much to alleviate the difficulties and benefit people who have been stricken with paralysis.
The term “plegia” means a paralysis. If one leg or an arm is paralyzed the condition is called monoplegia. If one side of the body is paralyzed the term is hemiplegia. If both legs are paralyzed, most frequently as a result of spinal cord disease, the condition is paraplegia. Weakness of all four extremities which occurs in a few severe and long standing conditions is a quadriplegia or four-way paralysis. Of course, such diseases as infantile paralysis or meningitis or encephalitis may damage only certain groups of muscles.
From the area involved and the symptoms associated the doctor may be able to tell the portion of the spinal cord or brain that is damaged. Much depends on whether there is just failure of movement, or whether this is accompanied by wasting of the tissues, difficulty in circulation of the blood or other significant factors.
Harm may come to the nervous system from hemorrhages, infections, blows or injuries, tearing or breaking of the nerves. A nerve can be injured in an arm or a leg, which then affects only the muscles reached by that nerve. A knowledge of just where each nerve originates and goes is needed for a diagnosis. Specialists with such knowledge are called neurologists.