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NINDS Alternating Hemiplegia Information Page

Synonym(s):   Hemiplegia Alterans

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What is Alternating Hemiplegia?

Alternating hemiplegia is a rare neurological disorder that develops in childhood, most often before the child is 18 months old. The disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of paralysis that involve one or both sides of the body, multiple limbs, or a single limb. The paralysis may affect different parts of the body at different times and may be brief or last for several days. Oftentimes these episodes will resolve after sleep. Affected children may also have abnormal movements involving stiffening or "dance-like" movements of a limb, as well as walking and balance problems. Some children have seizures. Children may have normal or delayed development. There are both benign and more serious forms of the disorder. Most children do not have a family history of the disorder; however, recent studies have show that some children with a family history have mutations in the genes CACNA1A, SCN1A, and ATP1A2. Mutations in the ATP1A2 gene have previously been associated with families affect by familial hemiplegic migraine.

Is there any treatment?

Drug therapy including verapamil may help to reduce the severity and duration of attacks of paralysis associated with the more serious form of alternating hemiplegia

What is the prognosis?

Children with the benign form of alternating hemiplegia have a good prognosis. Those who experience the more severe form have a poor prognosis because intellectual and mental capacities do not respond to drug therapy, and balance and gait problems continue. Over time, walking unassisted becomes difficult or impossible.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research on paralytic disorders such as alternating hemiplegia, with the goals of learning more about these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat and, ultimately cure them.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Alternating Hemiplegia Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood Foundation (AHCF)
31250 Plymouth Road
Livonia, MI   48150
sharon@ahckids.org
http://www.ahckids.org
Tel: 888-557-5757
Fax: 248-246-1172

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291



Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated September 16, 2011