Alternating Hemiplegia

Alternating hemiplegia is a rare neurological (nervous system) illness. It causes repeated (recurrent) but temporary episodes of paralysis. It develops in childhood, usually before the first 4 years of age. The paralysis happens on one side of the body. It can affect:

  • Eye movements.

  • Arms and legs.

  • Facial muscles.


The exact cause of the disorder is unknown but it appears to be related to migraines. It can also occur due to stress or sleep deprivation.


Symptoms of alternating hemiplegia can include:

  • No movement (paralysis) to one side of the body.

  • Balance and walking (gait) difficulties.

  • Excessive sweating.

  • Changes in body temperature.

  • Convulsions (seizures).

  • Decreased mental abilities (mentalimpairment).


Drug therapy can help with alternating hemiplegia. It may reduce how severe the attacks of paralysis are and how long they last. Sleep can also help when an episode of alternating hemiplegia develops.