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Athetosis
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 R25.8
ICD-9 781.0
DiseasesDB 16662
MeSH D001264

Athetosis is a continuous stream of slow, sinuous, writhing movements, typically of the hands and feet. Movements typical to athetosis are sometimes called athetoid movements. It is said to be caused by damage to the corpus striatum of the brain - specifically to the putamen. It can also be caused by a lesion of the motor thalamus.

Athetosis is to be distinguished from pseudoathetosis, which is abnormal writhing movement, usually of the fingers, occurring when the eyes are closed, caused by a failure of joint position sense (proprioception), for example in peripheral neuropathy.

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ATHETOSIS (Gr. &Oeros, "without place"), the medical term applied to certain slow, purposeless, deliberate movements of the hands and feet. The fingers are separately flexed and extended, abducted and adducted in an entirely irregular way. The hands as a whole are also moved, and the arms, toes and feet may be affected. The condition is usually due to some lesion of the brain which has caused hemiplegia, and is especially common in childhood. It is occasionally congenital (so called), and is then due to some injury of the brain during birth. It is more usually associated with hemiplegia, in which condition there is first of all complete voluntary immobility of the parts affected: but later, as there is a return of a certain amount of power over the limbs affected, the slow rhythmic movements of athetosis are first noticed. This never develops, however, where there is no recovery of voluntary power. Its distribution is thus nearly always hemiplegic, and it is often associated with more or less mental impairment. The movements may or may not continue during sleep. They cannot be arrested for more than a moment by will power, and are aggravated by voluntary movements. The prognosis is unsatisfactory, as the condition usually continues unchanged for years, though improvement occasionally occurs in slight cases, or even complete recovery.


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