A patient with paralysis cannot move a part or the whole of his/her body. When the lower half of the body is paralyzed, the condition is called paraplegia. When the left or right half of the body is paralyzed, the condition is known as hemiplegia. When the patient’s arms and legs both are paralyzed, the condition is called quadriplegia.
Paralysis usually occurs when a patient has had a stroke, spinal cord injury or head injury. When a stroke occurs, the different cells of the body start dying and as a result, different parts of the body stop functioning.
Inability to function effectively can affect the patient’s mental health, and also damage their self-confidence.
The CNA should encourage the patient to exercise the paralyzed muscles, as prescribed by the physician. Movement of the paralyzed muscles will enable blood circulation, prevent muscle contractures and help the patient to maintain normal body functions. This will avoid bed sores, incontinence and further complications in the patient.
The CNA should take the following actions when assisting the patient with paralysis:
- Maintain a calm and stress-free environment.
- Take the patient out for some fresh air, unless contraindicated by the doctor.
- Promote rest. However, ensure that the patient does not lie in the same position for more than 2 to 3 hours. Change the patient’s position to either side every few hours. This will prevent pressure ulcers.
- Encourage the patient to perform activities of daily living. Provide assistive devices so that the patient can perform chores like eating or bathing.
- Be respectful and caring. Talk slowly and listen carefully to the patient, as he/she may not be able to express pain and other needs due to slurred speech.
- Perform range of motion exercises as prescribed. This will strengthen the muscles.
- Provide assistance when exercising weak paralyzed areas. Provide a walker or cane when the patient is trying to walk.
- Ensure there are grab bars in the patient’s bathroom, to prevent falls.
- Be supportive and encourage the patient towards recovery. A relaxed conversation will go a long way in promoting the patient’s emotional health.