24 Jan Discovering, Diagnosing & Defeating Dystonia
What is Dystonia?
Dystonia is a movement disorder in which a person’s muscles begin to contract involuntarily, whether it’s one muscle, a group of muscles, or the whole body. Most often, these contractions occur in areas involving the neck and/or face but can still affect many different parts. The contractions cause the body part to twist involuntarily, move repetitively, or have abnormal postures–sometimes to a painful degree.
Dystonia: A Result of Damage to the Brain
Nearly 250,000 people in the US have dystonia, and although women are more prone to the disorder than men, it still affects individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and races. Usually, there isn’t a specific cause of this condition. Idiopathic or primary dystonia is often inherited from a parent, while acquired dystonia is believed to result from damage to the basal ganglia in the brain.
The basal ganglia is primarily responsible for motor control, and when the communication between nerve cells is interrupted, movement problems arise. Often, this damage happens as a result of some kind of brain trauma, such as TBI, stroke, tumor, oxygen deprivation, or an infection of some kind.
Symptoms of Dystonia
From mild to severe, dystonia symptoms can vary with early signs including:
- A “dragging leg”
- Cramping foot
- Involuntary pulling of the neck
- Uncontrollable blinking
- Speech/voice problems
These symptoms can worsen from stress or fatigue. Symptoms showing in childhood often start in the foot or hand, while adult symptoms are more focal and segmental, affecting one part of the body or two or more adjacent body parts.
While most approaches to treatment involve a variety of therapies including medications, surgery, physical therapy, splinting, stress management, and biofeedback aimed at reducing muscle spasms and pain, Cerebrum takes a different approach.
Our goal is to identify the functional changes in the local arrangement of muscles in the body and brain that may result in the dystonic symptoms and then rehabilitate accordingly. While each case of Dystonia is different and responds to different therapies, many patients who have struggled have had marked improvement using an approach that consists of a combination of physical and myofascial therapy coupled with neuro-rehab.