Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Clinic Notes: Transiet hemiplegia and Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood

Transient hemiplegia (one-sided paralysis) can be caused by low blood sugar in childhood diabetes and other organic conditions, such as transient ischemic attacks (TIA’s), and also some types of migraines. Like adults, children can have strokes with permanent paralysis. Sometimes the term transient hemiplegia refers to a rare condition known as Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood. In this disorder, one side is paralyzed one day, and the other side is paralyzed on other days, which seems to defy basic neuroanatomy. The only minimally effective treatment reported for Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood is a calcium channel blocker called Flunarizine. The FDA has not approved this drug, and since so few cases of Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood exist, they are not likely to do so. Only 250 children worldwide are affected by this disorder so there’s a real shortage of patients for studies into the causes. Years ago, I saw a young child in my clinic with a diagnosis of Alternating Hemiplegia. I didn’t think it likely that such a rare disorder would pop up in my clinic and was suspicious of the diagnosis from the beginning. After several months it turned out to be a case exactly like Jamie’s. See and The 2000 June-August issue of the online publication of Perspectives: A Mental Health Magazine at for a brief account of this case.
Go to for a complete case history in Little Bubba's Not Ready for Nashville.

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