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Phenomenology of psychogenic movement disorders in children


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Psychogenic movement disorders are heterogeneous and diagnostically challenging. Despite the growing literature on adult forms, clinical features in children have received relatively little attention. We retrospectively reviewed medical records and video of patients <18 years diagnosed with a psychogenic movement disorder at our institute between 2007 and 2010. We identified 14 patients (6 males and 8 females) with a mean onset age of 11.5 years. Levels of diagnostic confidence were documented (2 patients), clinically established (8 patients), and probable (4 patients). A single movement disorder was present in 10 patients (71%); 4 patients (29%) presented an association of two or more movement disorders. Eleven patients presented other medically unexplained symptoms associated with their movement disorders. Five patients, among 6 with chronic occurrence, performed a polymyographic study showing significant modifications of frequency, amplitude, and distribution of electromyographic activity, related to distracting maneuvers. The present series represents 5% of all movement disorders observed in the considered period and 32% of nonorganic neurological manifestations. The most frequent movement disorders were tremor (36%) and dystonia (29%). We describe two phenotypes not previously reported among psychogenic movement disorders: myoclonus and association of myoclonus with dystonia. We remark on the presence of psychogenic symptoms associated with movement disorders (79%) as being one of the most useful clinical clues as well as on the value of polymyographic study in chronic psychogenic movement disorders, which provide evidence of the inconsistency of movement disorders. © 2012 Movement Disorder Society