Palsy, or Paralysis, a disease in which the patient is partly deprived of the power of voluntary motion ; and which is often attended with sleep. One of the most frequent forms of the palsy is that, in which all the muscles on one side of the body are attacked, when the disorder is called a hemiplegia. If the power of motion and sense of feeling in the lower half of the body be impaired, the complaint is denominated paraplegia. Sometimes, also, it affects the tongue, lips, or other parts, in which cases it is termed Local Palsy.
Peculiarities All the varieties of this complaint, more generally appear in the aged than in the young and robust:- the left side is in rnost instances the seat of the disease. Its hereditary nature is evident, from cases in which the fingers have been found paralytic from the birth ; and it has also, though seldom, assumed a periodical state.
Causes : Palsies are induced by whatever prevents the nervous power from acting on any particular part of the human frame. The more remote causes are, intoxication, the immoderate use of tobacco, coffee, or tea; chronic rheumatism; wounds of the brain, or spinal marrow ; suppression of customary evacuations; extreme coldness or dampness of the atmosphere; and indulgence in any of the violent passions : to these may be added, the inhaling of the noxious vapours of lead, quicksilver, or arsenic; or the injudicious medicinal use of those minerals, etc.
Persons liable to Apoplexy, are peculiarly disposed to the attacks of palsy; and likewise such as lead sedentary and luxurious lives, or who are often engaged in intense studies during the night, or have suffered great distress and anxiety, are frequently subject to this malady.
Cure : As paralytic strokes often occur without any previous symptoms, though the patient generally feels a considerable degree of languor, restlessness, and giddiness in the head, it will be advisable to pay the greatest attention to the nature of the disorder, and immediately to consult a professional man. In young and plethoric persons, the treatment must be similar to that pointed out in the sanguineous apoplexy(vol.i.p. 82): but, it blood-letting become necessary, small quantities only should be drawn at one time; beside which, stimulating blisters ought to be applied, and brisk purgatives administered.- In the aged or de-crepid, a contrary course must be adopted : the parts affected ought to be rubbed either with the flesh-brush, or with the hand ; blisters warm plasters, and volatile liniments, should likewise be employed. Considerable advantage has' sometimes, been received from electricity, the shocks of which must be directed to the diseased part, from a blunt wooden point; and be repeated daily, for several weeks.
Should the palsy be consequent on apoplexy, it must be treated according to the directions given for apoplectic fits : if it arise from rheumatic affection, it may, gene-rally, be relieved by similar management with that to be followed in the. Rheumatism. In palsy, originating from mineral exhalations, it will be useful to resort to warm, and ch'-obstruent medicines ; and to apply blisters to the part affected : but, if it be induced by the Imperceptible inhalation of lead", we refer to the most appropriate method pointed out p. 75, of the present volume
Lastly, when the violence of the disease is happily reduced so as to admit of the patient taking exer-, this beneficial practice should be cautiously and regularly pur-sued : he ought to avoid all cold damp air ; to wear flannel next the skin; and, if possible, to remove into a warmer climate.