Dystonia It is a movement disorder in which a person's muscles contract uncontrollably. The contraction causes the affected body part to twist involuntarily, resulting in repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Dystonia can affect one muscle, a muscle group, or the entire body. The disorder may be hereditary or caused by other factors such as birth-related or other physical trauma, infection, poisoning or reaction to pharmaceutical drugs, particularly neuroleptics. Treatment must be highly customized to the needs of the individual and may include oral medications, botulinum neurotoxin injections, physical therapy and/or other supportive therapies, and/or surgical procedures such as deep brain stimulation. Some early symptoms include: ? A "dragging leg"? Cramping of the foot? Involuntary pulling of the neck ? Uncontrollable blinking Speech difficulties
Treatment for Dystonia includes: ? Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers ? Anticholinergics ? Benzodiazepines ? Dopaminergic agents ? Dopamine-depleting agents ? Anticonvulsants Botulinum Toxin Injections Injecting botulinum toxin directly into the muscles affected by dystonia can weaken the muscle. This may help improve symptoms for 3-4 months. Surgery Surgery to cut the nerves leading to muscles affected by dystonia or removing the muscles may help reduce muscle contractions. In addition, surgery to destroy the small area within the brain that dystonia occurs from may stop or reduce the disorder. Some success has been reported using surgically implanted deep brain stimulation to reduce symptoms of dystonia.
The DMRF supports research related to the causes, mechanisms, prevention, and treatment of all dystonias. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conduct research related to dystonia in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional dystonia research through grants to major research institutions across the country. Scientists at other NIH Institutes (National institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, National Eye Institute, and Eunice Kennnedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development) also support research that may benefit individuals with dystonia. Investigators believe that the dystonias result from an abnormality in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, where some of the messages that initiate muscle contractions are processed. Scientists at the NINDS laboratories have conducted detailed investigations of the pattern of muscle activity in persons with dystonias. Studies using EEG analysis and neuroimaging are probing brain activity. The search for the gene or genes responsible for some forms of dominantly inherited dystonias continues.