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(pôl`zē), complete loss or impairment of the ability to use voluntary muscles, usually as the result of a disorder of the nervous system. The nervous tissue that is injured may be in the brain, the spinal cord, or in the muscles themselves. Accordingly there may be general paralysis, involvement of only one side (hemiplegia), paralysis on both sides at one level (paraplegiaparaplegia
, paralysis of the lower part of the body, commonly affecting both legs and often internal organs below the waist. When both legs and arms are affected, the condition is called quadriplegia.
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 or quadriplegia), or localized paralysis in a small group of nerves or muscles.

The cause of paralysis may be any injury that tears or compresses the nerves; it may be hemorrhage, tumor, infection, or substances toxic to nerve tissue. One of the most frequent causes of paralysis is strokestroke,
destruction of brain tissue as a result of intracerebral hemorrhage or infarction caused by thrombosis (clotting) or embolus (obstruction in a blood vessel caused by clotted blood or other foreign matter circulating in the bloodstream); formerly called apoplexy.
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, in which hemorrhage, thrombosis, or obstruction of a cerebral vessel interferes with nerve function. Another disorder in which a resting tremor is one of the main symptoms, accompanied by slowness and poverty of movement, muscular rigidity, and postural instability is Parkinson's diseaseParkinson's disease
or Parkinsonism,
degenerative brain disorder first described by the English surgeon James Parkinson in 1817. When there is no known cause, the disease usually appears after age 40 and is referred to as Parkinson's disease; a number of genes have
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. Cerebral palsycerebral palsy
, disability caused by brain damage before or during birth or in the first years, resulting in a loss of voluntary muscular control and coordination. Although the exact cause is unknown, apparent predisposing factors include disease (e.g.
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 is due to an injury to the brain motor tissue before or during birth. However, this disorder is nonprogressive. Partial or complete paralysis often accompanies multiple sclerosismultiple sclerosis
(MS), chronic, slowly progressive autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the protective myelin sheaths that surround the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord (a process called demyelination), resulting in damaged areas that are unable
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absence of voluntary movement that is due to destruction or impairment of the motor centers of the spinal cord or brain or of tracts of the central or peripheral nervous system. A distinction is made between paralysis and paresis, the latter being a condition in which motor functions are weakened but present. Both conditions may be caused by disturbances of the blood circulation, inflammation, traumata, or tumors of the nervous system. An unusual kind of paralysis occurs in hysteria. Paralyses must be distinguished from motor disorders associated with inflammation of muscles and lesions of bones and joints, which restrict the range of movement mechanically. Paralysis may affect one muscle, one extremity (monoplegia), the arm and leg on one side (hemiplegia), both arms or both legs (paraplegia), or other combinations of muscles.

Peripheral paralysis is a flaccid paralysis that involves the motor cells of the spinal cord and its anterior roots, peripheral nerves, plexuses, or nuclei of the cranial nerves. Central paralysis is a spastic paralysis that involves the brain’s central motor neurons or their outgrowths in the spinal cord.

Peripheral paralysis is characterized by the complete absence of movement, decrease in muscle tone, loss of reflexes, and muscular atrophy. Sensory disorders occur when a peripheral nerve or plexus containing both motor and sensory fibers is affected.

Central paralysis is characterized not by the complete loss of motor functions but by their dissociation—the loss of some functions and intensification of others. While voluntary movement is absent, muscle tone and tendon and periosteal reflexes increase and pathological Babinski’s, Rossolimo’s, and other reflexes appear. Associated movements (synkinesis) are observed. These are involuntary movements that occur in paralyzed extremities during voluntary movements of healthy extremities. Sensory disturbances are also observed.

Extrapyrimidal paralysis arises when the subcortical structures of the brain are affected. Associated, reflex, and voluntary movements are absent (akinesia). Muscle tone is plastic, and the extremity can move only passively.

Electromyography and other special methods of examination are important for differential diagnosis.

The prognosis and treatment are determined by the disease that caused the paralysis. Among the special methods used to restore the functions of the extremity are massage and remedial gymnastics.


Krol’, M. B., and E. A. Fedorova. Osnovnye nevropatologicheskie sindromy. Moscow, 1966.
Kukuev, L. A. Struktura dvigatel’nogo analizatora. Leningrad, 1968.


What does it mean when you dream about paralysis?

Being unable to move may mean the dreamer feels helpless to control the situation at hand. Alternatively, perhaps the dreamer needs to “freeze” and do nothing about some issue for awhile.


Complete or partial loss of motor or sensory function.


a. impairment or loss of voluntary muscle function or of sensation (sensory paralysis) in a part or area of the body, usually caused by a lesion or disorder of the muscles or the nerves supplying them
b. a disease characterized by such impairment or loss; palsy


Dreaming that you or someone else is paralyzed could be very frightening. Depending on the details of your dream and your current situation in life, there are several different, but equally reasonable interpretations. The fear that paralyzes you in the dream may be symbolic of the fear that you are experiencing in daily life. You may feel somewhat unable to change a current situation, which may manifest itself in your dream as a form of paralysis. In addition, this dream may be cautioning you to stay still and do nothing for now in regard to a real-life situation that is on your mind and may be problematic for you. In the dream you may be “frozen with fear” and it is up to you decipher what that fear is and what it represents.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 2010, he fell from a window and suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralysed from the waist down.
Claire was sent home twice more but woke 17 days after the bite with a paralysed face.
Tom, of Edinburgh, was paralysed at 17 but has travelled the world competing -and his achievements have won him a Great Scot Unsung Hero nomination.
There are plenty like him: Mohammed Ali, paralysed from the waist down by polio, who was abandoned by his parents at the age of three and is now training for a BA in fine arts; Siva Prasad, unable to walk because of polio and taking a computer course; and Devendran, a labourer, who broke his back falling from a building but miraculously can still walk, albeit slowly, and is retraining as a tailor.
The system is designed to provide electrical stimulation to control and re-educate weak or paralysed muscles, so patients who have suffered damage to the central nervous system after stroke can regain movement.
Reeve, who had been paralysed in a riding accident, had become a symbol of hope for many sufferers.
A team from the University of San Paulo in Brazil, led by Tarciscio Barros, said after treatment 12 out of 30 patients responded to electrical stimulation of their paralysed limbs.
Ian was left paralysed following a road accident and through the auction and birthday party he wanted to thank all those who have supported him and in turn raise funding for the UK based charity, Spinal Research.
The ex-Thatcher Cabinet minister, whose wife Margaret was paralysed in the IRA Brighton bombing, will ask the actor about pioneering new medical drugs and surgery which might help his wife's recovery.
style="font-weight: 400KARACHI: Father of a nine-month-old baby, who got paralysed after being administered the wrong injection atDarulSehatHospitalinKarachion Monday filed First Information Report (FIR) at the Shahrah-e-Faisal police station.
LAHORE -- A paralysed child was burnt to death when a fire erupted in a house at LDA Society Margzar Colony, here on Monday.
SHEIKHUPURA -- An infant died while his mother's arm got paralysed after being administered injections by a quack in Kot Abdul Malik locality here on Wednesday.