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Rare Diseases 2023

SíIs Imprisonment Syndrome Curable?

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SíIs Imprisonment Syndrome Curable?
SíIs Imprisonment Syndrome Curable?

Incarceration Syndrome, or Locked-In Syndrome, is a rare neurological disease in which all muscles in the body are paralyzed, with the exception of the muscles that control eye or eyelid movement.

In this disease, the patient is 'trapped' inside his own body, unable to move or communicate, but remains conscious, perceiving everything that happens around him and his memory remains intact. There is no cure for this syndrome, but there are procedures that can help improve the person's quality of life, such as a kind of helmet that can identify what the person needs, so that they can be attended to.

How to know if it is this syndrome

Symptoms of Imprisonment Syndrome can be:

  • Paralysis of body muscles;
  • Inability to speak and chew;
  • Arms and legs stiff and straight.

Generally, patients can only move their eyes up and down, as even lateral eye movements are compromised. The person also feels pain, but cannot communicate and therefore cannot make any movement, as if they were not feeling any pain.

The diagnosis is made based on the signs and symptoms presented and can be confirmed with exams, such as magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography, for example.

What causes this syndrome

Causes of Imprisonment Syndrome can be traumatic brain injuries, after a stroke, medication side effects, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, head injuries, meningitis, brain hemorrhage or snakebite.In this syndrome, the information that the brain sends to the body is not fully captured by the muscle fibers and therefore the body does not respond to the orders sent by the brain.

How the treatment is done

Treatment of Imprisonment Syndrome does not cure the disease, but it helps to improve the person's quality of life. Currently, to facilitate communication, technologies are used that can translate through signs, such as blinking, what the person is thinking into words, allowing the other person to understand. Another possibility is to use a kind of cap with electrodes on the head that interprets what the person is thinking so that they can be attended to.

A small device can also be used that has electrodes that are glued to the skin that are capable of promoting muscle contraction to reduce its stiffness, but the person can hardly recover movement and most of them die in the first year after the disease appeared.The most common cause of death is due to the accumulation of secretions in the airways, which occurs naturally when the person does not move.

Thus, to improve the quality of life and avoid this accumulation of secretions, it is recommended that the person undergo motor and respiratory physiotherapy at least twice a day. An oxygen mask can be used to facilitate breathing and feeding should be done by tube, requiring the use of diapers to contain urine and feces.

Care should be the same as for an unconscious bedridden person and if the family does not provide this type of care the person may die due to infections or accumulation of secretions in the lungs, which can cause pneumonia.

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