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For individuals who have suffered a stroke, one of the most common side effects is hemiparesis, or weakness in half of a person's body. Approximately 80% of stroke survivors experience this, with effects ranging from mere weakness in half the body to a complete inability to move one half of the body. Often, this weakness runs from a person's head to their feet, impacting the following parts of the body:

  1. Facial muscles (including those used in their ability to speak)
  2. Arms
  3. Legs
  4. Hands
  5. Feet

Hemiparesis can impact a person's quality of life dramatically, forcing them to become dependent upon another person for some of the most basic and routine tasks, from going to the bathroom to speaking to dressing oneself. In addition to the weakness itself, hemiparesis can cause secondary effects, including a loss of balance and coordination or increased muscle fatigue as the functioning half of the body works to correct the imbalance.

Hemiparesis can be treated, however, largely through the use of physical therapy and rehabilitation. While full movement may never be regained, an individual can strengthen their muscles and improve their movement abilities through continued therapeutic interventions. Some patients have also found that supplementing traditional physical therapy with electrical stimulation can increase range of motion and improve one's overall functioning. For many, though, it is through extensive therapy and the use of assistive devices, including canes, walkers, and braces, that a normal degree of functionality is regained.

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