Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis: What to Look for & How Its Treated

Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis

A person might suffer from a variety of disabilities as a consequence of a spinal cord injury (SCI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Hemiplegia and hemiparesis are two illnesses that many people misunderstand, most likely due to their similar names.

To help you understand more about both disorders, here’s a simple breakdown of hemiplegia vs hemiparesis and how they vary.


The word “Hemi” in hemiplegia refers to anything happening on one half of the body – either the left or right side. Hemiparesis is defined as weakness in one half of the body. This may show as a lack of motor control, inability to feel one side of the body or overall feelings of weakness.

Left Hemiparesis vs Right Hemiparesis

Right hemiparesis, as the name indicates, is a weakness on the right side of the body, and left hemiparesis is a weakness on the left side of the body. It is unknown what causes this weakness on one side of the body but not the other, although damage to the nerve system from accident, illness or degenerative disorders may result in hemiparesis.

Hemiparesis may evolve into hemiplegia over time in degenerative illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


Whereas hemiparesis refers to weakness on one side of the body, hemiplegia refers to partial or whole paralysis. Because paralysis is a severe kind of weakness and nerve failure, hemiplegia is a severe form of hemiparesis.

Paraplegia, which affects the lower body, should not be confused with hemiplegia. The causes of hemiplegia and paraplegia, on the other hand, are typically comparable.

Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis

Left Hemiplegia vs Right Hemiplegia

Left hemiplegia refers to paralysis of the left side of the body, while right hemiplegia refers to paralysis of the right side of the body. Right or left hemiplegia, like hemiparesis, may be induced by neural system injury.

An incomplete spinal cord injury is a frequent cause of left or right hemiplegia. Because just a portion of the spinal cord is cut in an incomplete SCI, there may still be some function below the damaged site. An incomplete spinal cord damage in the cervical spinal cord, for example, may paralyze the left side of the body while leaving the right side functioning – however, this is not certain since the precise nerves destroyed may change the symptoms of the injury.

Hemiplegia vs hemiparesis

Hemiparesis and hemiplegia are both symptoms of central nervous system damage. Both obstruct movement and feeling. Both may be difficult to cure and often substantially limit normal functioning.

Despite the differences in symptoms, the two illnesses are fundamentally distinct manifestations of the same underlying issue. Hemiparesis results from mild to moderate nerve or brain injury, while hemiplegia results from moderate to severe nerve or brain damage. Furthermore, the same injury might result in both symptoms at different periods. This is particularly true when nerves are constricted or the spinal cord is enlarged since variations in swelling or compression may cause symptoms to vary.

Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis: Causes

Both hemiplegia and hemiparesis are caused by a lack of communication between the brain and the muscles. Actually, hemiplegia is only a more severe kind of hemiparesis. Understanding how the brain and muscles connect can help you grasp this better.

Movement on the opposite side of the body is controlled by each side of the brain. The main motor cortex, for example, sends a complex array of impulses to the muscles, allowing you to move them on demand.

However, when certain parts of the brain are damaged by a stroke, those messages are disrupted. As a consequence, the muscles are unable to react to brain commands.

If the damage is small, the signal from the brain may still reach the muscles, but it will be weaker. As a result, although the individual will have trouble moving their arm, movement will still be feasible. This is known as hemiparesis.

If the patient has a massive stroke, the neurological connections will be entirely broken, and the muscles will become paralyzed.

Fortunately, the brain has an amazing capacity to rebuild damaged connections, which is known as neuroplasticity. Using this capacity may assist stroke patients in overcoming both hemiparesis and hemiplegia after a stroke.

Hemiparesis and Hemiplegia Treatments

Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis

While patients with hemiplegia may need to take additional measures in their rehabilitation, both hemiparesis and hemiplegia patients can regain some mobility and power.

Following a stroke, the following treatments may be used to treat hemiplegia and hemiparesis:

Passive Rehabilitation Exercises

Passive exercise may help people with hemiplegia recover mobility in their paralyzed muscles. Simply said, this entails aiding your afflicted side using your non-affected side. You may even enlist the assistance of a caregiver.

Even if you do not move, passive exercise stimulates the brain’s capacity to reorganize itself. This will gradually rebuild the neurological connections in your brain, allowing you to move those muscles again in the future.

Active Rehabilitation

Active exercise may be the most effective therapy for those who have hemiparesis after a stroke. Even a tiny amount of muscle movement may directly trigger neuroplasticity.

This not only stimulates neuroplasticity but also strengthens the damaged muscles, which may have lost strength. When stroke patients cease using their damaged side as much, their muscles lose bulk (muscle atrophy), which may be helped by exercising.

The notion of neuroplasticity, which argues that the body can adapt to its surroundings and change even after the brain has been injured, implies that hemiplegic symptoms may be improved via therapy. Strengthening exercises with high frequency and repetition, as well as functional task training, may assist in lessening weakness.

Therapy with Mirrors

Mirror therapy is an excellent method for recovering from hand weakness or paralysis after a stroke.

It entails holding a mirror up to your afflicted hand while doing hand rehabilitation exercises with your non-affected hand. This “tricks” your brain into believing you’re moving your afflicted hand, which aids in brain rewiring.

Hemiplegia vs Hemiparesis

Finally, hemiplegia is paralysis on one side of the body caused by a stroke, while hemiparesis is weakening on one side. Both issues are caused by a breakdown in communication between the brain and the muscles.

Fortunately, neuroplasticity may be used to treat both. Passive activities may help patients with hemiplegia activate their neuroplasticity. Those suffering from hemiparesis should participate in active rehabilitation activities.


You may increase your mobility and recovery after a stroke by restoring the brain’s neurological connections to your muscles via constant therapy.


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