Bradykinesia is a term used to describe a medical condition marked by slow motion of movement of the patient. It may occasionally occur as a symptom of some other underlying disease or disorder. Individuals affected by bradykinesia tend to elicit reduced mobility as well as slow movement of the muscular motions.
Bradykinesia may sometimes be confused with another ailment known as hypokinesia, wherein the affected person also experiences reduced bodily motions. However, hypokinesia has more to do with problems in commencing a movement whereas bradykinesia refers to the speed of the motion and not to motion initiation problems.
It is possible for individuals with bradykinesia to suffer from hypokinesia and vice versa. The onset of bradykinesia is often sudden and the affected person may feel increasingly stressed due to the fact that his independence is slowly getting declined due to the disability. In the US, nearly 1 million individuals suffer from some kind of bradykinesia at some point of time in their lives. However, the condition usually does not increase in severity in many patients.
Bradykinesia, unlike tremors, affects all individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Doctors will usually order for a more dedicated motor examination if they observe a decrease in the arm swing and other subtle changes, micrographia, reluctance in starting a muscular movement, and diminished rate of blinking. Other manifestation of bradykinesia include hypophonia, hypomimia, and monotonous or dull speech. Sometimes, the condition may be confused and misdiagnosed as depression. People with early onset Parkinson’s disease are more like to suffer from dyskinesia and with increased frequency.
The primary symptom of bradykinesia is slowness of movement, which is turn is a definition of the name itself. Bradykinesia can be a symptom of some other condition, or it may occur on its own. Affected people may face difficulties in finishing a particular movement after initiating it, because the condition has an adverse effect on the basal ganglia, which is a section of a brain that is involves in the management and control of motor movements and motor learning.
Bradykinesia is regarded as one of the most vital symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. But it may be sometimes difficult to diagnose, particularly in the early phases. Some of the common signs and symptoms of bradykinesia are listed below:
- There is poverty or slowness of motion
- Increased rigidity
- Muscular or generalized weakness
- Decrease in arm swing or other minor changes when walking
- Slowness in initiating a movement
- Unusual demeanor and overall gait or gestalt
- Hypokinesia, or difficulties in starting a movement.
- Incorrectness of the movements
Causes of bradykinesia
- In most cases bradykinesia occurs as a symptom of some other underlying condition. Thus, if an individual is diagnosed with bradykinesia then it usually means that he may have any of the many disorders associated with bradykinesia. The most common condition associated with bradykinesia is Parkinson’s disease.
- Some other causes of bradykinesia are as follows:
- Any kind of central nervous system malfunction. Bradykinesia commences inside the central nervous system, wherein the basal ganglia section of the brain and other parts of the brain are not communicating or transmitting signals in a normal manner so as to bring about the desired bodily movement. In other words, there is hyperactivity of the basal ganglia due to which it cannot transmit the correct messages to the muscles in a normal and timely manner.
- Intake of anti-psychotic medicines can also trigger episodes of bradykinesia. The anti-psychotic drugs induce a sense of calm and significantly slow down the bodily movements. However, this drug may not result in bradykinesia in all individuals who consume it.
Treatment of bradykinesia
With the passage of time, the underlying causative condition of bradykinesia tend to gradually worsen in severity, which in turn also aggravates bradykinesia symptoms. Hence, most patients tend to use chemical prescriptions for alleviation of the symptoms.
The below listed steps can provide some temporary relief from the symptoms of bradykinesia:
- Reduce all kinds of multi-tasking so as to minimize the mixed signals which are being transmitted to and fro from the basal ganglia. Try to focus on just one task at a time.
- Use a cane, walker, or other kinds of walking sticks to prevent any kind of injuries that may occur due to falling.
- If bradykinesia is the result of anti-psychotic medicines, then consult the doctor so that he/she may prescribe alternative medications.
- Doctors may also prescribe medicines such as Sinemet, Amantadine, L-DOPA, and Cardidopa, etc. for easing some of the associated symptoms.
Restorative therapy and neuro-protective therapy are two treatment options that can help alleviate the condition.
- Restorative therapy helps replace the lost neurons. The therapy involves transplantation of normally functioning embryonic cells into the pathways of the nervous system. Genetic alteration of the cells may also assist in restoration of normal functionality.
- Neuro-protective therapy is aimed at slowing down the progression and degeneration of bradykinesia via causing interferences in the process of nerve cell deterioration.
Surgery is generally not used to treat bradykinesia. The use of deep brain stimulation therapy as a treatment option is however gaining more acceptance.