Dystonia is a neurological condition causing involuntary and sometimes painful muscle spasms resulting in abnormal movements or postures. Dystonia is an umbrella term covering a number of conditions.  Spasms can be intermittent or sustained, and can cause awkward, unusual and sometimes painful postures.  Tremor (shaking) and athetosis (writing movements) can also be a characteristic of some types of dystonia.

Presentation of symptoms vary tremendously according to the individual.  It affects different parts of the body with the most common areas in adults being the neck and eyes.  It can affect one or two parts, most common in the adult, but with early onset dystonia it often generalises to affect multiple parts of the body.  It can be very uncomfortable, cause pain, and has varied effects on activities such as speech, visual performance and mobility.

The cause varies and is unidentified in a high proportion of cases.  Some identified causes include brain lesions and gene mutations.  The underlying pathology is thought to be a problem with the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls movement, with faulty signals from the brain causing the muscles to spasm and pull on the body incorrectly.  Studies have also identified the cerebellum playing a causal role.

At the Bobath Centre we offer a comprehensive assessment to identify relevant primary and secondary impairments.  Although we cannot offer a cure, we use highly skilled handling techniques to treat the neurological problems caused by dystonia, aiming to correct postural changes, maintain range of movement, and reduce secondary impacts such as pain, with the ultimate aim of maintaining or improving independence.  We take an analytical problem solving approach that is individualised to each client.  Treatment plans are guided by the use of individualised functional goal plans and outcome measures.

Over time we will also develop a highly specific home programme to support twenty-four-hour management, with the aims of reducing any associated pain symptoms and maximising a person’s function and independence.

Treatment can be delivered in a range of different formats and is decided on an individual basis, this can range from 6 monthly reviews to intensive bursts of treatment for a couple of weeks or more.

For more information on spinal dystonia follow these links: