Ipsilateral vs Contralateral- What’s the Difference?

The terms ipsilateral and contralateral are fascinating words that have an important place in certain scientific disciplines, particularly when discussing human anatomy and physiology. But what exactly are ipsilateral and contralateral, and how are they different?

Exploring the Differences between Ipsilateral and Contralateral Movements

Ipsilateral and contralateral actions refer to the divide between movements which occur on the same side of the body (ipsilateral) or opposite sides of the body (contralateral).

During physical exams and tests, doctors often assess movement and ask patients to do ipsilateral and contralateral movements. The difference between ipsilateral and contralateral is simply the direction of the movement.

Ipsilateral refers to an action that is on the same side of the body. This could be anything from the same arm to the same leg. For example, if someone were to move their right arm and move their left arm in the opposite direction, the movement would be considered ipsilateral.

Contralateral actions occur on opposite sides of the body. This means that movements of the right arm and left arm would occur in opposite directions. For example, raising the right arm and lowering the left at the same time would be a contralateral action.

Ipsilateral Example Sentences

There are many examples of ipsilateral actions. Here are a few examples:

  • She bent her left arm and straightened her right arm – ipsilateral movement
  • She contracted her right knee and extended her left knee – ipsilateral movement
  • He held his left arm out and moved his right arm inward – ipsilateral movement

Contralateral Example Sentences

Contralateral actions are also common and can occur in many activities. Here are a few example sentences illustrating contralateral action:

  • She raised her left arm and lowered her right arm – contralateral action
  • He rotated his right shoulder clockwise and his left shoulder counter-clockwise – contralateral action
  • She lifted her right leg and extended her left leg – contralateral action


Ipsilateral and contralateral movements are two important notions in human anatomy and physiology. Understanding these movements is essential for medical professionals, healthcare providers, and athletes alike. Knowing the difference between ipsilateral and contralateral can help doctors and healthcare providers properly diagnose and assess patients, as well as help athletes refine their technique and improve their performance.