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Hemiplegia in school students with an ABI fact sheet

Hemiplegia in school students with an acquired brain injury

Hemiplegia means that one side of the body has been affected by the injury. This may include the leg, arm and face. The side of the body can be weak or paralysed, have changes in tone and sometimes the sensation (or feeling) of the body is affected so that touch and temperature sensation and the ability to position the affected limbs are also impaired.

How do I know if my student is having difficulties with hemiplegia?

A student with a hemiplegia may have difficulties with:

  • weakness or changes in muscle tone affecting movement and ability to participate in activities
  • neglecting their arm or leg e.g. Forgetting to place their arm on the desk when stabilising paper
  • two handed activities such as cutting, tying shoelaces, buttons or craft
  • balance when walking or sitting
  • managing their saliva or losing food from one side of their mouth when eating.

What can I do to help my student if they are having difficulties with hemiplegia?

  • Always try to encourage the student to be symmetrical e.g. Both arms on a table, both feet flat on the floor.
  • Vary sitting positions to ensure the affected side is included e.g. Sitting with legs out in front, side sitting to lean on their affected arm.
  • Encourage students to pay more attention to their affected side by placing them in the classroom so their affected side is towards the main classroom area. However if the student has visual or hearing difficulties, this may not be possible.
  • Encourage the use of two hands for tasks.  Sometimes a verbal prompt or non-verbal reminder (eg. Light tap on the affected side) is all that is required.
  • Encourage the student to wear splints if recommended by the students Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist.

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
Level 6, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 2950
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
f: 07 3068 3909
e: qprs@health.qld.gov.au

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Developed by the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Children’s Health Queensland. Updated: October 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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