Paralysis is a loss of voluntary muscular control, due to an abnormal condition of the nerves or nerve-centers which control the affected muscles. The nervous effect may originate either in the brain or the spinal cord, unless it results from severing or inflammation of the nerves. Since the nervous tissue is the most delicate tissue of the body and the most highly organized, a definite cure of paralysis is difficult. There are various forms of paralysis, some of which cannot be considered here.

One of the most common forms of paralysis is that resulting from a stroke of apoplexy. This commonly is called a paralytic stroke. This form usually is not preceded by any definite warning, though in some cases there have been tingling or more or less numbness in the extremities, headache, dizziness, frequent and severe nosebleed or other symptoms. A hemorrhage results from the rupture of a weakened artery in the brain. The paralysis is due to damage to the motor centers of the brain resulting from the pressure or definite injury created by a hemorrhage.

Paralysis agitans or shaking palsy is one form of paralysis. It usually comes on toward advanced age, or between fifty and sixty years of age. It occurs in males about twice as often as in females. The leading causes are thought to be a too long continued drive of the mental or physical organism, with insufficient relaxation, or continuous mental occupation without physical activity. Anxiety and worrying and exposure to wet and cold may be exciting causes. The onset is gradual. The first symptom usually is a trembling of the hands and a loss of control of the arms. A peculiarity of the finger trembling is a “pill-rolling” movement — a circular movement of the opposed tips of the thumb and index and second finger. In time there is a similar loss of nervous control throughout the body. The erect position becomes difficult, and the patient adopts a crouching, trembling attitude, the head bent forward and the back curved and rigid. It becomes increasingly difficult to walk except in a straight line. If necessary to turn the body some form of temporary support is needed. The sufferer begins to walk slowly, but once started has difficulty in stopping. A hurried shuffling gait results.

The motions are intensified when a conscious move is attempted. The knees often vibrate up and down when seated unless the feet are planted firmly on the floor. This trembling in time becomes practically intolerable, as it is present during the entire waking hours. Often the head trembles in a similar manner, shaking continuously.

Treatment: Since there is no specific treatment for paralysis, practically all forms are treated similarly. It is necessary to increase the vitality, to stimulate and tone up the nerve-centers of the spine, to improve circulation in general and especially of the affected parts and to improve general metabolism.

The absolute fast may be used in these cases for from two to ten days, depending upon the general condition. It should be short if the vitality and weight are below normal; otherwise the longer fast may be taken. It is advisable to use a milk diet in most of these cases after the fast — or after a fruit diet if the fast is not taken. One may use enough milk to gain weight very slowly if below normal, or little enough to maintain weight at normal or even to permit a loss of weight if desirable. From two or three to four quarts daily will be the usual quantity. Care must be taken not to take enough milk to increase blood pressure from the presence of additional fluid in the circulation. The enema may be required daily. It may be advisable to repeat the fast or fruit diet and the milk diet for several periods, continuing each milk diet period for from four to eight weeks.

Spinal therapy is of considerable value in these cases. This may take the form of any suitable means of application of heat or of massage or specific manipulation, or of both heat, the massage or manipulation.

This is a condition in which some form of electricity is used to advantage. The sinusoidal treatment is particularly beneficial. It helps the muscles automatically to tense or contract, thus assisting in maintaining or restoring muscle-tone and in reviving dormant nerve-tone.

If the condition permits of the exercise, walking should be taken each day until slight fatigue develops. Care must be taken to avoid pronounced fatigue. Exercise is more important in this affliction than in many other abnormal conditions. Some excellent type of exercise is required to retrain the nerves and muscles. This is particularly applicable in a paralysis resulting from apoplexy. Frequently the suggestions that follow may be found of value.

One should have lines on the floor up and down which one may walk, aiming to center the foot over the line at each step; or one may have various spots on the floor to which the heel or toe may be touched while seated and while standing; one may have tenpins or milk bottles or books in a row in front of one while seated or standing holding to some support. These objects are to be touched or pushed over in order, and in regular skipping order (each alternate object or each third object, and so on) ; one may have the outline of a shoe sole marked on steps, the feet to be placed definitely over these in mounting the stairs. There should be a hand rail within reach to insure safety in this exercise.

Sunlight treatments, natural or artificial, and infra-red or radiant light treatment may be employed, also the neutral or moderately warm prolonged tub-bath. Or, after three months or so following a paralytic stroke, some form of sweat-bath, provided a cold wet turban is about the head and a cold pack about the throat.

It is impossible to predetermine the amount of improvement that will take place in any case of paralysis. Great relief has been attained within a comparatively short time in many cases, after which no further improvement may have been secured. Sometimes the only benefit from treatment will be a checking of the progress of the paralysis. In other cases there has been complete recovery. If there are any means whereby paralysis can be cured these should be those natural means which have been enumerated.

It should be added that there should be a cheerful environment, and the patient should have part of the time lightly occupied mentally. All excitement must be avoided; there must be plenty of relaxation and rest, care should be exercised to keep the skin normally active, and every other feature designed to improve the general health must be looked after.

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