Physiotherapy to improve quality of life
What is dystonia?
Dystonia is a movement disorder that makes it difficult for people to control their muscles. Dystonia causes spasms or involuntary muscle contractions leading to twisting, repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Dystonia may be acquired as a result of damage to the brain, such as from a stroke, or idiopathically, which is from an unknown cause.
Symptoms of dystonia
Dystonia is a condition that may affect children and adults of any age. The symptoms of dystonia may or may not be progressive, depending on the cause, and vary from person to person.
Muscle contractions can:
- Occur during a specific action, such as handwriting
- Deteriorate with stress, anxiety or fatigue
- Become more obvious over time
- Start in one area of the body
Dystonia can also be a symptom of other neurological conditions:
There’s no cure for dystonia. Interventions are aimed at reducing symptoms and improving function.
How we can help
Treatment for dystonia
Treatment for dystonia is best done in conjunction with your medical team. If the cause of your dystonia is unknown, or you are not under a specialist medical team, with your permission, we’ll talk with your GP regarding referral to appropriate specialist doctors. Medical management of Dystonia may include medication, injection of botulinum toxin, or in severe cases, Deep Brain Stimulation may be considered.
After a thorough personal assessment to help us understand your story and unique challenges, we’ll do a physical assessment. These assessments give us a clearer picture of your situation, and how we can work together to maximise function and help you achieve your goals. Therapy may include strengthening exercises, stretches and practicing everyday tasks – also called functional training.
We’ll work with your medical team to maximise the impact of therapy. For example, if you have had an injection of botulinum toxin, we’ll time your stretches and strengthening exercises so they will have maximum impact. If appropriate, we may also refer you to a therapist who can help with serial casting, which is a strategy used to help lengthen tight muscles.