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Keywords:

  • dystonia;
  • neurological history;
  • cinematography

Abstract

Among movement disorders, dystonia is a particularly complex phenomenon and difficult to describe. For this reason, cinematographic documents were particularly important to the establishment of this disorder within the neurological nosology. The seminal 1944 article on dystonia by E. Herz anchored its arguments in moving film documentation, published with frame-by-frame demonstrations of dystonic patients. Although the original films that comprised the basis of this article have not been located, two related contemporaneous films, one by Herz in association with T.J. Putnam, and one by S.P. Goodhart and B.H. Balser, have been located. Incorporating standard and several innovative filming techniques, these films and their accompanying text material capture the particular movements of dystonia, revealing the anatomical patterns of the twisting spasms, and emphasize their action exacerbation. The films demonstrate the variety of dystonic movements appreciated during this period, consider psychogenic, postencephalitic, and hereditary forms, and refer to the treatment of dystonia by surgery and plaster casts. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society