Dystonia refers to a specific clinical entity as well as movements occurring as a result of other syndromes. Dystonic movements are the most commonly misdiagnosed abnormal involuntary movements. Dystonia worsens under emotional or physical stress and with fatigue, lessens with rest, relaxation, hypnosis and sensory tricks, can have diurnal fluctuations and may disappear in sleep. Dystonia is often confused with chorea and myoclonus and considered to be voluntary, that is, psychogenic in origin, in part because of its unusual and varied clinical expression. The neuroscience nurse, cognizant of the natural history, phenomenology and genetics of dystonia, will be able to identify early signs and symptoms, inform colleagues and teach family members who care for children with primary dystonia.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Carol Brown Moskowitz, RN-C, MSN, CNRN at: Columbia University, Department of Neurology, NI Box 22, 710 West 168th Street, New York, New York 10032. She is a senior staff associate.
© 1991 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses