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Dysdiadochokinesia in Multiple Sclerosis

December 27, 2017

Dysdiadochokinesia is a common sign in multiple sclerosis patients that is caused by one or more lesions in the cerebellum, it refers to a person’s inability to perform rapid, alternating movements.

A physician can evaluate the presence or the degree of dysdiadochokinesia in several ways. One way is to have the patient alternately flip each hand separately back and forth alternately against a stable surface as fast as possible. Another way is to ask the patient to mimic the movement of turning a doorknob or screwing in a lightbulb. If a patient has dysdiadochokinesia, they will not be able to perform these tests in the correct and coordinated way. The movements they display may be slowed, unusual or clumsy.

Some neurological problems that may occur with dysdiadochokinesia are conditions like ataxia, which can affect body movements such as walking, balance and fine motor movements. Ataxia can also cause slow eye movements, problems with swallowing and speech difficulties. Dysmetria is another neurological sign similar to dysdiadochokinesia, this refers to a person’s inability to judge distance. Doctors use the nose-to-finger test (where the patient is asked to touch their nose, then the doctor’s finger) in order to examine this sign.

Treating neurological problems such as dysdiadochokinesia and cerebellar ataxia are challenging, and not done in any specific way. Medications that treat tremor are often used to treat ataxia, and sometimes surgery is considered. While scientific evidence on treatments are limited, some researchers have found that physical therapy and occupational therapy may provide some benefit to patients. Relating to problems with mobility and balance, through specific therapy strategies patients can learn how to prevent falls, modify their homes with appliances such as grab rails, learning how to maintain an upright and controlled position, and walking on the treadmill to improve their gait.