The most common cause of hemiplegia is stroke. Strokes can cause a variety of movement disorders, depending on the location and severity of the lesion. Hemiplegia is common when the stroke affects the corticospinal tract. Other causes of hemiplegia include spinal cord injury, specifically Brown-Séquard syndrome, traumatic brain injury, or disease affecting the brain.
As a lesion that results in hemiplegia occurs in the brain or spinal cord, hemiplegic muscles display features of the Upper Motor Neuron Syndrome. Features other than weakness include decreased movement control, clonus (a series of involuntary rapid muscle contractions), spasticity, exaggerated deep tendon reflexes and decreased endurance.
The incidence of hemiplegia is much higher in premature babies than term babies. There is also a high incidence of hemiplegia during pregnancy and experts believe that this may be related to either a traumatic delivery, use of forceps or some event which causes brain injury.
Other causes of hemiplegia in adults include trauma, bleeding, brain infections and cancers. Individuals who have uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension or those who smoke have a higher chance of developing a stroke. Weakness on one side of the face may occur and may be due to a viral infection, stroke or a cancer.
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