Sensory training for patients with focal hand dystonia

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  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.

Abstract

Some patients with focal hand dystonia have impaired sensory perception. Abnormal sensory processing may lead to problems with fine motor control. For patients with focal hand dystonia who demonstrate sensory dysfunction, sensory training may reverse sensory impairment and dystonic symptoms. We studied the efficacy of learning to read braille as a method of sensory training for patients with focal hand dystonia. Sensory spatial discrimination was evaluated in 10 patients who had focal hand dystonia and 10 age- and gender-matched controls with a spatial acuity test (JVP domes were used in this test). Clinical dystonia evaluation included the Fahn dystonia scale and time needed to write a standard paragraph. Each individual was trained in braille reading at the grade 1 level for 8 weeks, between 30 and 60 minutes daily, and was monitored closely to ensure that reading was done regularly. Both controls and patients demonstrated improvement on the spatial acuity test. Patients showed a significant mean difference from baseline to 8 weeks on the Fahn dystonia scale. Sixty percent of the patients shortened the time they needed to write a standard paragraph. Improved sensory perception correlated positively with improvement on the Fahn dystonia scale. We conclude that training in braille reading improves deficits in spatial discrimination and decreases disability in patients with focal hand dystonia.

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