Spastic hemiplegia is a neuromuscular condition of spasticity that results in the muscles on one side of the body being in a constant state of contraction. It is the “one-sided version” of spastic diplegia. It falls under the mobility impairment umbrella of cerebral palsy. About 20–30% of people with cerebral palsy have spastic hemiplegia.
Due to brain or nerve damage, the brain is constantly sending action potentials to the neuromuscular junctions on the affected side of the body. Similar to strokes, damage on the left side of the brain affects the right side of the body and damage on the right side of the brain affects the left side of the body. The affected side of the body is rigid, weak and has low functional abilities.
In most cases, the upper extremity is much more affected than the lower extremity. This could be due to preference of hand usage during early development. If both arms are affected, the condition is referred to as double hemiplegia. Some patients with spastic hemiplegia only suffer minor impairments, where in severe cases one side of the body could be completely paralyzed. The severity of spastic hemiplegia is dependent upon the degree of the brain or nerve damage.