Akinesia is a medical term which describes a loss of motor function. The term literally means “without movement.” It is associated with a number of medical conditions, perhaps most notably Parkinson's disease, and it can also be caused by some medications and by injuries to the brain, especially the basal ganglia of the brain. Treatment options for this movement disorder vary, depending on what is causing the lack of movement. People who develop akinesia often know why the movement disorder is emerging because it is usually a complication of another condition, but they should still be evaluated by a doctor.
Progressive neurological conditions can lead to akinesia because the patient's brain becomes injured and the pathways used to direct movement are damaged. Many patients experience symptoms like tremors, slowed movement, and poor motor control before loss of motion develops. Akinesia can also be the result of nerve damage. Injuries to the brain, as for instance when a patient is injured in a car accident, cause akinesia for similar reasons.
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Certain medications used to treat mental illnesses have been linked with movement disorders, including akinesia. When a patient develops akinesia as a side effect, alternative medications can be explored. If the patient's medication is switched, the patient may recover motor control. In some cases, however, alternatives may not be available, and the patient may have to decide between being unmedicated and taking the medication but experiencing impairments as a result.
Akinesia can also describe damage to an organ, such as the heart. Some patients develop a condition known as akinetic septum after surgery or as a result of heart disease, especially ischemic heart disease in which parts of the heart are deprived of oxygen and die. Medical imaging studies such as ultrasound can be used to determine that part of the heart is not moving. It is also possible to be born with congenital akinesia as a result of chromosomal variations or problems which occurred during fetal development.
People with chronic illnesses which require them to spend a lot of time in bed may develop akinesia as a result of inactivity. They can also develop conditions such as flexed joints. Gentle physical therapy can be used to provide supportive care to such patients so that they are less likely to develop these complications. This can include stretching poses which the caregiver pulls the patient into in order to stretch the muscles and gently work the joints.