Parkinson's disease is a well-known and highly publicized movement disorder, but the list of neurologic movement disorders includes everything from tremor to Tourette syndrome to neuro-degenerative disorders such as Shy-Drager syndrome.

It is important to note that with many neurological movement disorders, no single lab test confirms a diagnosis and many symptoms mimic those of other illnesses. A diagnosis is made by a physician through an extensive review of an individual's symptoms and medical history, along with thorough physical and neurological exams. Tests such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and an electroencephalographic (EEG) test may also be used to help physicians accurately diagnose a disorder.

What is dystonia? Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder where the body becomes fixed in abnormal postures or positions as a result of sustained involuntary muscle contractions. Affecting parts of the body such as the arms, legs, trunk, neck, eyelids, face or vocal cords, dystonia is not fatal but the sustained muscle contractions can alter an individual's ability to maintain normal functions, according to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

Although there are many different causes of the disorder, the origin of an individual's dystonia can be categorized in two separate groups: primary dystonia or secondary dystonia. Primary dystonia is believed to be the result of a problem rooted in the basal ganglia, the deep brain structures that control movement. However, the direct cause of the abnormal function is unknown.

Trauma to the brain, toxins, birth injury, stroke or other underlying disorders can cause secondary dystonia, which usually can be identified by the presence of lesions in the area of the brain that controls movement or in the surrounding structures.

Combined with medical care from a personal physician, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital can offer dystonia patients several treatment options to help ease the discomfort of muscle spasms.

Complementary therapies such as physical therapy and speech therapy may play a role in successfully managing the effects of dystonia, as well as supporting the medical care that an individual receives from a physician. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth can offer a wide range of therapies including speech therapy by a certified Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) Program therapist, a comprehensive physical therapy program and an occupational therapy program that includes a hand therapy treatment center.

For more information about the Mabee Rehabilitation Center, call 817-250-2022. For a physician referral, call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

What is myoclonus? Like the characteristics of other associated movement disorders, myoclonus manifests itself through involuntary, jerk-like or twitching movements often referred to as positive myoclonus. Myoclonus may also periodically interrupt voluntary muscle contractions, leading to periods of uncontrolled posture. This type of interruption is referred to as negative myoclonus.

Symptoms associated with myoclonus:

  • Jerk-like, abrupt, brief involuntary movements of a muscle or muscle group
  • Involuntary twitching movements
  • Interruption of voluntary muscle movement causing individuals to periodically lose the ability to control posture

Before treating the effects of myoclonus, a physician will need to confirm that the disorder is not due to another underlying problem or disease process. Once the disorder is diagnosed, treatment with various medications may help reduce the attacks. Please see a physician to determine the appropriate drug therapy for you.

For a physician referral, call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

Tourette Syndrome
What is Tourette syndrome? Individuals with this inherited neurological disorder often display episodes of involuntary body movements and/or uncontrollable vocal sounds called motor and vocal tics. Tourette symptoms usually appear during childhood, before the age of 21, and can be enhanced by symptoms from associated conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Symptoms of Tourette syndrome include:

  • Sudden, rapid, recurrent, involuntary movements of the body (motor tics)
  • Sudden, involuntary, recurrent vocalizations such as repeated throat clearing, grunting, sighing, barking, sniffing, snorting and hissing
  • Episodes may periodically decrease or increase in frequency or intensity
  • Tics may subside during activities that engage the individual such as reading, working and sleeping

Although there is no cure for Tourette syndrome, symptoms may be treated with a number of medications prescribed by physicians. Drug therapy for the motor and vocal tics may be combined with behavior therapy by physicians to help curb obsessive-compulsive behaviors, ADHD and impulsivity.

Please see a physician for diagnosis and treatment of Tourette syndrome. For a physician referral, call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

Shy-Drager Syndrome
What is Shy-Drager syndrome? As a neurodegenerative disorder, Shy-Drager syndrome affects many different functions in the body such as movement, blood pressure, the urinary tract, speech and vision. Shy-Drager syndrome is formally known as multiple system atrophy (MSA).

Symptoms of Shy-Drager syndrome include:

  • Stiffness or rigidity
  • Freezing or slowed movements
  • Instability, loss of balance, lack of coordination
  • A significant fall in blood pressure when standing, resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or blurred vision
  • Male impotence
  • Urinary difficulties
  • Constipation
  • Speech and swallowing difficulties
  • Blurred vision

Certified speech-language pathologists can offer treatment for swallowing, language, oral motor, speech, cognitive, voice and fluency disorders related to MSA symptoms. Several speech therapists at the hospital are certified in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) Program, which has gained national attention in the field of speech pathology as a voice therapy treatment approach designed to increase vocal loudness and phonatory efforts in people with Parkinsonian-like symptoms, resulting in overall speech improvement.

For more information about the speech-language pathology program, call 817-250-2760. For a physician referral, call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

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