Paralysis: Basic Info

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Paralysis: Basic Info
Paralysis: Basic Info

Video: Paralysis: Basic Info

Video: Paralysis: Basic Info
Video: What is Paralysis? What are the Types of Paralysis? How Does Someone Become Paralyzed? 2023, December

Paralysis: basic info

Paralysis usually refers to the inability to move various parts of the body such as arms and legs. The possible causes are varied and range from injuries to infections to strokes. The type and severity of symptoms depend on the extent and location of the nerve damage. Treatment is based on the underlying trigger.


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  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?


The spinal cord plays a crucial role in the functioning of the body. Together with the brain, it forms the central nervous system (CNS). The spinal cord runs in the so-called spinal canal within the spine and extends from above the first cervical vertebra to the level of the second lumbar vertebra. It works like a line that transmits stimuli from the brain to the muscles and sends information such as position of the limbs, temperature sensation or pain back from the muscles to the brain. If this nerve line is damaged, it can lead to paralysis, disorders of vegetative functions and changes in muscle tension and reflexes.

In addition, paralysis can also be caused by damage to so-called peripheral nerves located outside the CNS.


Paralysis can result from a wide variety of factors, for example:

  • Injuries (e.g. traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury from vertebral fracture),
  • Disc prolapse,
  • Polyneuropathy (e.g. in diabetes or alcoholism),
  • Facial paralysis (facial paralysis),
  • Migraine,
  • Inflammation of the meninges and brain,
  • Stroke,
  • Arteriosclerosis,
  • Circulatory disorders,
  • peripheral arterial disease (PAOD),
  • Tumors in the brain and spinal cord,
  • Infections (e.g. diphtheria, borreliosis, polio, botulism, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) as well
  • Muscle and nervous diseases (e.g. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease).


Depending on the extent, the following forms of paralysis are distinguished:

  • Paresis: mild to moderate paralysis.
  • Paralysis or plegia: complete paralysis in which no more muscle contractions can be detected. An even more detailed definition is occasionally chosen in the specialist literature. According to this, muscles are generally affected in a paralysis, for example those of blood vessels or the intestines, whereas in a plegia only the skeletal muscles are affected.

Depending on the extent of the paralysis, the following distinctions are made in plegia, paralysis and paresis: The prefix “Hemi-” refers to one half of the body, “Para-” to both legs and “Tetra-” to all four extremities.

Depending on the affected region, movements, gestures and body mechanisms can no longer be unconsciously or consciously controlled (e.g. walking, running, laughing). Paralysis can occur suddenly (eg after an accident or a stroke) or develop slowly and progressively (eg with muscle and nerve disorders).


The diagnosis is based on a detailed medical history and physical and neurological examinations. The ability to move, muscle strength, reflexes and sensations are tested. Depending on the result or suspected diagnosis, a blood laboratory and imaging processes such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance tomography, electromyography, electroneurography and electroencephalography follow. If necessary, cerebrospinal fluid puncture, muscle biopsy or genetic tests may also be required.

In addition to the distribution pattern, the type of paralysis can provide information about the location of the damage:

  • Spastic paralysis is associated with increased muscle tone and indicates damage to the central nervous system (CNS).
  • Flaccid paralysis occurs when damage to peripheral nerves, ie nerves located outside the spinal cord, disrupts or completely disrupts the connection between the brain and muscles.

Therapy & course

Treatment depends on the underlying cause.

  • When caused by infection paralysis antibiotics or antivirals can be used.
  • Paralysis caused by brain tumors may regress after surgical treatment, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • In the case of paralysis caused by accidents, an operation can be used to try to save the nerve connections.
  • In the case of paralysis caused by muscle and nervous diseases, supportive measures such as physiotherapy and physical treatments are particularly useful to strengthen muscles, blood circulation and mobility. The main goal is to slow down the progression of the disease as much as possible.

Note If necessary, rehabilitation in a neurological rehabilitation center is recommended in the case of paralysis - especially after surgical trauma treatment or in the case of tumor diseases.


Paralysis can take very different courses. For example, facial paralysis often heals on its own within a few weeks to months. In contrast, paralysis is incurable in many neurological diseases. In addition, symptoms of paralysis can increase the longer the disease lasts, for example in multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Whom can I ask?

In the event of any sudden or new paralysis, you should immediately contact the following institutions:

  • Rescue,
  • Accident ambulance,
  • Emergency room,
  • General practitioner on duty or
  • Specialist in neurology.

How are the costs going to be covered?

All necessary and appropriate therapies are covered by the health insurance carriers. Basically, your doctor or the outpatient clinic will settle accounts directly with your health insurance provider. With certain health insurance providers, however, you may have to pay a deductible (BVAEB, SVS, SVS, BVAEB). However, you can also use a doctor of your choice (ie doctor without a health insurance contract) or a private outpatient clinic. For more information, see Costs and Deductibles.

If hospitalization is required for treatment, hospital costs will be invoiced. The patient has to pay a daily contribution to the costs. Any further medication at home that may be required is provided by the general practitioner or the specialist in neurology by prescription.

For more information, see What does a hospital stay cost?

If rehabilitation in a neurological rehabilitation center is recommended, the rehabilitation application required for this is in most cases made directly in the hospital by the treating doctor using the application form.

You can find more information on the subject of "Application for rehabilitation" in the article Rehabilitation and spa stay.

You can find rehabilitation centers for neurological diseases under Services:

Search for rehabilitation centers.

The rehabilitation costs during the hospital stay are covered by social insurance. For further outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation measures, a doctor's prescription is required, which must be approved by the responsible social insurance agency. A deductible (income-dependent) is provided for inpatient stays in a rehabilitation center.