Progressive catatonia

Psychol Rep. 1999 Feb;84(1):239-46. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1999.84.1.239.


We present the case of a young man with a diagnosis of a childhood-onset pervasive developmental disorder who developed a progressive neurologic deterioration with persistent catatonia and right hemiparesis. On his initial evaluation approximately three years after the onset of mutism, he manifested right hemiparesis and catalepsy. Two years later, although catalepsy had subsided, motor function had deteriorated so that he could not use his hands to feed or dress himself. Oral-facialbuccal dyskinesia manifested by blepharospasm and grimacing were present constantly during waking hours. Quantitative electroencephalography demonstrated markedly decreased amplitude, a finding associated with catatonia. Left sural nerve biopsy indicated large axon cylinder degeneration. Left deltoid biopsy demonstrated perimysial fibrosis and type II fiber predominance. Although magnetic resonance imaging of the head without contrast was normal, positron emission tomography indicated hypometabolism of the right cerebral and the right cerebellar hemispheres. The patient continues to deteriorate despite a course of 25 electroconvulsive treatments. He continues to manifest criteria for catatonia including motoric immobility, mutism, and peculiarities of voluntary movement such as prominent grimacing. We suspect an inherited neurodegenerative disorder. Since catatonia is a treatable condition frequently associated with medical and neurological diseases, examination for the features of catatonia must be included in the assessment of patients with progressive brain degeneration. This report is an attempt to clarify the traits of a serious variant of progressive brain degeneration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Catatonia / complications
  • Catatonia / diagnosis*
  • Catatonia / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutism / complications
  • Mutism / psychology