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Loss or impairment of voluntary use of one or more muscles. It may be flaccid (with loss of muscle tone) or spastic (stiff). Hemiplegia (one-sided paralysis) is usually caused by stroke or brain tumour on the opposite side. Diplegia (two-sided paralysis, as in cerebral palsy) results from generalized brain disease. Spinal-cord damage (from bone or joint disease, fracture, or tumour affecting the vertebrae; inflammatory and degenerative diseases; or pernicious anemia) paralyzes the body at and below the level of the damage (paraplegia if the legs and lower body only; quadriplegia if arms and legs). Poliomyelitis and polyneuritis (neuritis of multiple nerves) result in paralysis with muscle wasting. Bell palsy (a type of neuritis) paralyzes the muscles of one side of the face. Muscular dystrophy causes paralysis by attacking muscle. Metabolic causes include myasthenia gravis. Paralysis may also have psychiatric causes (seehysteria).
Variants of PARALYSIS
paralysis or palsy
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on paralysis, visit Britannica.com.