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What are the characteristic symptoms of dystonia? Read the text below, then take the quiz to check your understanding of this condition.
© University of East Anglia

Read the short summary of ‘Dystonia’. 

Muscle contractions that tend to cause abnormal posture or uncontrolled slow, often repetitive movement. These effects may be mild or severe—often severe cases began with mild symptoms.

A single muscle, a group of muscles or multiple muscle groups can be affected. A foot, muscles controlling eye movements, the neck, limbs and sometimes the whole trunk are areas that may be involved.

The movements can be painful and many affected patients also experience a tremor or other neurological effects. For some the cause may be genetic but for most this can’t be explained.

Causes of dystonia vary between individuals and are often unknown. The problem tends to lie anywhere in motor pathways from the outer brain cortex, with input from the cerebellum and basal nuclei (or ganglia), to muscles via the spinal cord.

Now consider how this condition might impact on activities of living such as:

Communicating – for example, speaking to a shopkeeper with dystonia affecting your neck, so that your head always looks to the right, and when you make the effort to look forward, your head shakes a little, from left to right (a tremor).

Washing and dressing – for example, dressing while uncontrolled spasm affect your limbs.

Try to think of more activities of living that would be affected and, if you can, ways to manage this. Check out these sites, that may help you with this exercise:



© University of East Anglia
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