Diagnosis and rehabilitation strategies for patients with hysterical hemiparesis: a report of four cases

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Jun;79(6):709-14. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90049-1.


Conversion disorder is a psychological disturbance that produces subconscious alterations in sensorimotor function. Hysterical hemiparesis is a relatively rare, and difficult to diagnose, form of conversion disorder presenting as unilateral motor weakness with or without sensory deficits. We report four patients who required inpatient rehabilitation for hysterical hemiparesis, a diagnosis for which there is little information regarding rehabilitation management. In all cases, an extensive acute care evaluation including multiple imaging studies failed to identify a new neurologic lesion. All patients had rapid functional improvement using functional and behavioral therapies and extensive psychosocial support (mean length of stay of 11 days; mean Functional Independence Measure [FIM] gain of 22; mean discharge FIM of 112), consistent with other published reports of rehabilitation of conversion disorder. Evaluation of these cases reveals consistencies regarding presentation, psychosocial history, and rehabilitation course that can aid clinicians in making the diagnosis. Rehabilitation strategies for hysterical hemiparesis are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology
  • Conversion Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / diagnosis*
  • Hemiplegia / psychology
  • Hemiplegia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Social Support