October 30, 2009

Basal Ganglia Disorders Causes and Treatments

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

A group of nucleic structures in the brain located at bottom of the fore brain and connected to the thalamus and cerebral cortex and other areas is known as the basal ganglia. These play an important role in movement, specifically motor control abilities and learning. These structures determine the speed of a person’s movements and they are also believed to be involved in emotions and thinking. Conditions that affect the functioning of this group of structures are referred to as basal ganglia disorders.

The symptoms that may be indicative of a disorder in the basal ganglia include athetosis, which is characterized by an inability to maintain a single position for a muscle group. Slow and continuous writhing movements are likely to occur in the legs and arms. Chorea can also occur, which are involuntary jerking movements which can be observed on the face, arms and legs. Basal ganglia disorders also cause disruptions in initiating and continuing movements. This may be visible in patients as movements that appear to be in slow motion. Since the nucleic structure of the basal ganglia are thought to be involved in emotional functioning, disorders in this area can cause emotional and personality abnormalities such as paranoia, depression or abnormal behavior. Memory disruptions and dementia may also occur in some cases. Another sign of such disorders is an increased muscle tone, which occur as the muscles tend to remain flexed involuntarily. Repetitive movements, tremors and unintentional motions can also take place. Improper motor control can also cause the patient’s posture to become unstable and he or she may walk in an unsteady manner.

The disorders that affect the basal ganglia region of the brain include cerebral palsy which develops in children and may even occur at birth; creutzfeldt-jacob disease which can occur due to genetic reasons or due to exposure to polluted substances; huntington disease which is a genetic disease; kernicterus which occurs in newborn babies; parkinson disease which may occur due to unknown causes; wilson disease which is a genetic illness; and stroke which is caused due to insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain. Certain medications such as those used for treating psychosis may also cause a disorder of the basal ganglia. Besides these, there may be other conditions that affect this area of the brain for which the causes may be uncertain. Treatment of basal ganglia disorders involve the administration of medications that help in controlling the symptoms. Sometimes surgery may be necessary in case the medications are not effective. In addition, physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy may also be provided to help the individual to deal with the disorder.