Dealing with Dystonia

Dealing with Dystonia
By: Wendy Ray

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --You've probably heard of Parkinson's disease and tremors, but what about dystonia? Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder. Laura Lacey has learned a lot about dystonia since her three year old daughter was diagnosed with it a year ago.

Laura noticed her daughter Ashlyn started walking with a limp when she was two years old. She took her to the doctor, a diagnosis of cerebral palsy followed, but further testing showed Ashlyn has dystonia. "Dystonia is a neurological muscle disorder that delays speech because it affects the vocal cords. It causes spasms. Writers cramp is a common form of dystonia, basically that's what it does throughout the body," Laura says.

Dystonia causes Ashlyn to have a slight limp and tremors. It's also taken away her ability to speak. Ashlyn has been going to Southeast Outpatient Rehab for speech, physical, and occupational therapies for a year. Laura says the therapies are working. "She can climb up and down the steps now, she still has to have a little help. She can put puzzles together," Laura says.

Dystonia can be managed, but Ashlyn will have her share of obstacles. Laura is confident that with her positive attitude, her little girl will overcome whatever comes her way. "As she gets older it's still going to be treatable. They might have to increase her medications. I think she will need therapies for a long time. I think she's going to get over it the best she can."

In Ashlyn's case dystonia was genetic. Strokes or trauma can also cause dystonia.

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