Early Signs of Movement Disorders in Children

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Imagine your child playing—running, jumping, or maybe even attempting a daring climb on the jungle gym. But what if their movements seem a little off? 

They might stumble more often, have trouble coordinating their limbs, or exhibit jerky, involuntary movements. These could be early signs of pediatric movement disorders.

In this blog, we’ll explore the early signs of movement disorders in children.

Understanding Pediatric Movement Disorders

Pediatric movement disorders are neurological conditions that disrupt the speed, smoothness, and control of movements. They include involuntary jerks, tremors, inappropriate movements, excessive movements, rigidity, abnormal postures, and difficulty controlling movement. 

Many children sometimes make repetitive or involuntary movements, like rocking back and forth or twirling their hair, which can be triggered by stress or physiological causes. 

While some of these movements may diminish over time, others may worsen progressively.

Types of Movement Disorders in Children

Common types of movement disorders include:

 

Ataxia

Ataxia affects the part of the brain that causes uncoordinated movement, leading to unsteady gait and trouble writing or buttoning clothes. 

Chorea

Chorea causes brief, involuntary, irregular, jerky movements that can affect any body part. Chorea can be mild or severe and may worsen with stress.

Huntington’s Disease

A progressive genetic disorder causing cognitive decline, psychiatric symptoms (such as depression or irritability), and gradual loss of motor control.

Dystonia

This condition involves involuntary muscle contractions that result in twisting or repetitive movements and abnormal postures

Cervical Dystonia

This condition leads to involuntary muscle contractions in the neck, causing abnormal head positions and movements.

Tourette Syndrome

This neurological condition manifests with motor and vocal tics, which are sudden, repetitive, nonrhythmic movements or vocalizations.

Tremor

This pediatric movement disorder causes rhythmic shaking of body parts, which may occur at rest or during voluntary movement.

Myoclonus

Myoclonus are sudden, brief, shock-like muscle jerks which can happen either spontaneously or in response to stimuli.

Restless Legs Syndrome

This movement disorder causes aching, itching, or creeping feelings in the legs while relaxing or lying down, prompting an irresistible urge to move them.

Parkinsonism

Parkinsonism refers to slowness of movement along with stiffness, tremors, or loss of balance. 

Functional Movement Disorder

The condition involves abnormal movements or postures not explained by a neurological condition, often related to psychological factors.



Early Signs of Movement Disorders in Children

Each childhood movement disorder causes different symptoms, but all affect your voluntary movements. 

In general, movement disorder symptoms include:

  • Delayed Developmental Milestones: Not reaching typical developmental milestones for sitting, crawling, walking, or other motor skills within expected time frames.
  • Muscle Stiffness: Unusual muscle tone, such as increased stiffness or decreased tone, affecting movement.
  • Abnormal Movements: Involuntary movements such as tremors, jerks, or repetitive motions, especially when they persist or worsen over time.
  • Poor Coordination: Difficulty with balance, clumsiness, and problems coordinating movements, leading to frequent falls or accidents.
  • Unusual Postures: Adopting abnormal or awkward postures, such as arching the back or holding limbs in unusual positions.
  • Speech and Swallowing Difficulties: Challenges with speaking clearly or swallowing properly may indicate underlying neurological issues affecting motor control.
  • Changes in Walking Pattern: Gait abnormalities, such as toe walking, toe dragging, or a wide-based stance, may suggest underlying motor coordination problems.

Diagnosis of Movement Disorders in Children

The diagnostic process for disorders of movement for kids starts with a comprehensive medical history, focusing on the child’s symptoms, triggers, duration, frequency, and family history. 

A thorough physical examination follows, assessing movement disturbances, balance, muscle stiffness, and speech. 

Additional tests, such as laboratory tests, Electromyography (EMG), Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS), and brain imaging, may be recommended to rule out symptomatic causes.

Pediatric Movement Disorders Treatment

Treatment for movement disorders in children often involves :

  • Medications are frequently used to alleviate symptoms of movement disorders in children. 
  • Botox injections may be recommended for conditions like dystonia and some kinds of tremor.
  • Physiotherapy, occupational, and speech therapy can enhance movement, coordination, and communication skills.
  • Treating underlying medical conditions can help alleviate movement disorder symptoms.
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary, with deep brain stimulation being an option for certain movement disorders like essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease.

Contact Kids Neuro Clinic for Pediatric Movement Disorder Treatment

At Kids Neuro Clinic, we understand the unique needs of children with pediatric movement disorders. Our specialized team of pediatric neurologists, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists is dedicated to providing tailored treatments to improve their overall well-being. With extensive experience, we offer invaluable insights, personalized strategies, and compassionate support to ensure the best possible outcomes for your child.

Book an appointment today.