Alternating Hemiplegia (Hemiplegia Alterans)
About alternating hemiplegia
Alternating hemiplegia usually develops in the first 4 years of childhood, and is a rare neurological disorder. The main symptom of this disorder is recurring yet temporary periods of paralysis on one side of the patient’s body. This paralysis can affect movements of the following:
- Facial muscles
One form of alternating hemiplegia was discovered very recently, and is favoured considerably in terms of outlook. Primarily, this form of the disorder occurs when the child awakens during the night, and the symptoms are likened to those of a migraine. Children with this disorder suffer no other neurological or mental impairments.
In more serious cases of alternating hemiplegia, symptoms may include:
- Mental impairment
- Gait and balance difficulties
- Excessive sweating
- Body temperature changes
What causes Alternating Hemiplegia?
There is no known cause for alternating hemiplegia.
How is alternating hemiplegia treated?
The duration and severity of the paralysis attacks associated with the severe form of alternating hemiplegia can be reduced through drug therapy such as flunarizine.
Sleep aids the recovery from episodes of paralysis, but the paralysis can occur upon waking.
What is the prognosis for alternating hemiplegia?
Children with the benign form of the disorder usually have a good prognosis. However, patients suffering from the more severe form of alternating hemiplegia don’t have the mental and intellectual capacity to respond to drug therapy, and problems with the gait and balance will not subside. Unassisted walking becomes difficult over time, and in some cases it becomes impossible.