Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

The Relationship between Hemiplegia and Epilepsy

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Jan 2, 2020

Close up of male hands holding opened book with brain picture-1

What is Hemiplegia?

Hemiplegia is a neurological condition that affects either the left or the right hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right brain hemisphere controls the left side of the body. Hemiplegia causes either paralysis or some weakness and loss of control in the affected side of the body. Therefore, if one has paralysis or weakness on their right side, the disorder stems from hemiplegic abnormalities in the left hemisphere. Some people have it all the time, but with others, it can come and go. Hemiplegia can be congenital or acquired. Hemiplegia, also called hemiparesis, affects children and the condition lasts throughout their lifetime. There are many adults living with hemiplegia.

Congenital hemiplegia is more common than acquired hemiplegia. The damage to the brain happens before, during or soon after birth. One in one thousand children have this condition. Acquired hemiplegia may also occur in childhood or adulthood after sustaining a stroke, tumor, infection or injury. Hemiplegia may cause an inability to use the limbs, poor mobility, and difficulty in performing normal activities of daily living such as bathing, eating or getting dressed. Some people experience learning disabilities including, but not limited to dyslexia and concentration issues. Emotional or behavioral issues are common. Hemiplegia affects each person differently.

What is the connection between Epilepsy and Hemiplegia?

Hemiplegia and epilepsy are often related to an abnormal formation in the brain or an alteration in the activity of the brain. In some cases, the brain damage that causes hemiplegia may also cause epilepsy. The frequency of having both epilepsy and hemiplegia is one in five. In patients who have both conditions, the symptoms usually appear before the age of ten. The chances of acquiring both conditions seem to drop after a child turns ten years old. However, patients do not grow out of hemiplegia. It is a non-progressive disease and the severity of the condition remains the same throughout the patient’s life. Hemiplegia cannot be cured.

When hemiplegia is caused by the same brain damage that causes epilepsy, patients typically suffer from focal seizures. Other patients may suffer from generalized seizures or startle seizures. Startle seizures occur when the patient is shocked or surprised, such as by a loud noise. A more complicated type of epilepsy is epileptic encephalopathies, which may change how individuals perceive or interact with their environments and surroundings. Hemiplegia can also cause some learning disabilities.

The Emotional Toll of Hemiplegia and Epilepsy

Both children and adults may have experience emotional difficulties from dealing with the combined effects of epilepsy and hemiplegia. Children in particular may be concerned about how their condition leads to differences between them and their peers. Caregivers or parents may also experience emotional effects from caring for patients who suffer from hemiplegia and seizures. Having a strong support network may help to cope with feelings that emerge.

Treatment and Possible Outcomes

Typically, the main treatment is anti-epileptic drug (AED) therapy. Surgery may also be recommended in patients who do not respond well to AEDs. 

 

Sources:

Tenney, J., & Schapiro, M. (2012, July 3). Child neurology: Hemiconvulsion-hemiplegia-epilepsy syndrome. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22753451

Hemiplegia and epilepsy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2015, from http://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/hemiplegia-and-epilepsy#.Vjkr0yswjIV

Hemiconvulsion-hemiplegia epilepsy syndrome | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2015, from http://radiopaedia.org/articles/hemiconvulsion-hemiplegia-epilepsy-syndrome

Topics: Causes of Seizures