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Astasia-abasia is a disorder in which a person lacks the ability to walk or stand. Its meaning is readily apparent when the word is broken into two parts. The word astasia, means unable to stand normally and abasia means the inability to walk with proper muscular coordination. Astasia-abasia is a conversion disorder, which means that it has no apparent physical or neurological cause. It is also known as Blocq's disease, named after Paul Blocq, who was the first person to diagnose and describe the condition.
Many times disorders like astasia-abasia are thought to be a result of some form of severe stress and are psychological in nature. Also known as conversion ataxia, this disorder may develop from some form of injury, abuse or other physical harm. This may result in the development of phobias which may also cause the condition. Examples of related phobias include a fear of walking and standing called stasiphobia, and basophobia or basiphobia, which is a phobia that occurs when a person is unable to stand for fear of walking and falling.
Those with astasia or abasia display certain characteristic mannerisms when trying to walk or stand. Swaying of the torso and an off-balance appearance occurs when attempting to stand, while walking results in a lurching, stumbling and uncoordinated gait. These types of gait symptoms are common to conversion disorders and are frequently viewed as potential medical signs that assist in making the diagnosis. Despite this apparent difficulty with motor function and coordination however, those with astasia-abasia have normal leg movement when sitting or reclining.
In many cases people with this condition may appear as if they are going to fall whether they are walking or standing. This rarely occurs as astasia-abasia patients will, in most instances, prevent themselves from actually falling by catching onto nearby objects. If they begin to fall without a means to catch themselves, it is often in the presence of others who can catch them and prevent injury. For this reason, injuries related to the condition are rare.
Despite not causing any physical harm, astasia-abasia can have a negative impact on the lives of the people who are suffering from it. If left without treatment, it can have a negative effect on personal relationships and in the sufferer's ability to work. Treatment for this condition may include, physical therapy, psychotherapy and even hypnosis.