Monday, April 13, 2009


Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder which causes muscles throughout the body to involuntarily spasm and contract. As the disease progresses it causes the victim's body to take on strange postures as various muscle groups contract in unnatural ways. There are a number of different types of dystonia. These types are listed below:
  • Generalized
  • Segmental
  • Intermediate
  • Acute Dystonic Reaction
Generalized dystonia affects the entire body. It usually begins in childhood with symptoms beginning in the lower body and gradually working their way from bottom to top. As the disease progresses the patient will experience muscle pain and will eventually be unable to move.

Focal dystonias target a single muscle group. As an example, someone suffering from cervical dystonia will experience muscle contractions in the neck causing the head to pull to the side or to the chest.

Dystonia's are treated in a number of ways. Focal dystonias have been effectively treated with botulism (botox) injections to paralyze the spasming muscle group. Anti-parkinsonian drugs, such as L-dopa, and muscle relaxers can be an effective treatment for some forms of the disease.

Generalized dystonias have been treated with deep brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation involves a dangerous and complicated surgery in which the patient, while awake, has his skull opened and two electrodes embedded deep in the brain. The surgery can take up to 8 hours to complete. The electrodes in the brain are connected to a battery in the chest cavity which continually shocks the inside of the brain preventing it from sending out the signals which make the muscles contract. Patients who have opted to try deep brain stimulation have to undergo surgery every five years to replace the batteries in the chest unit.

Since this sick is rarely lethal but has a profound and noticeable impact on the body I rate it a
1 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)
and a 5 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)

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