Disorders of Upper Limb Movements in Ataxia-Telangiectasia

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 27;8(6):e67042. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067042. Print 2013.

Abstract

Ataxia-telangiectasia is known for cerebellar degeneration, but clinical descriptions of abnormal tone, posture, and movements suggest involvement of the network between cerebellum and basal ganglia. We quantitatively assessed the nature of upper-limb movement disorders in ataxia-telangiectasia. We used a three-axis accelerometer to assess the natural history and severity of abnormal upper-limb movements in 80 ataxia-telangiectasia and 19 healthy subjects. Recordings were made during goal-directed movements of upper limb (kinetic task), while arms were outstretched (postural task), and at rest. Almost all ataxia-telangiectasia subjects (79/80) had abnormal involuntary movements, such as rhythmic oscillations (tremor), slow drifts (dystonia or athetosis), and isolated rapid movements (dystonic jerks or myoclonus). All patients with involuntary movements had both kinetic and postural tremor, while 48 (61%) also had resting tremor. The tremor was present in transient episodes lasting several seconds during two-minute recording sessions of all three conditions. Percent time during which episodic tremor was present was greater for postural and kinetic tasks compared to rest. Resting tremor had higher frequency but smaller amplitude than postural and kinetic tremor. Rapid non-rhythmic movements were minimal during rest, but were triggered during sustained arm postures and goal directed arm movements suggesting they are best considered a form of dystonic jerks or action myoclonus. Advancing age did not correlate with the severity of involuntary limb movements. Abnormal upper-limb movements in ataxia-telangiectasia feature classic cerebellar impairment, but also suggest involvement of the network between the cerebellum and basal ganglia.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / physiopathology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity* / physiology
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Movement* / physiology
  • Periodicity
  • Posture / physiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tremor / physiopathology
  • Upper Extremity* / physiopathology
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The study was supported by grants from Ataxia-Telangiectasia Children’s Project, Gustavus Louise Pfeiffer Foundation, and Allen Leavy Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.