Movement Disorders Clinic
Conditions We Treat

Managing the Full Range of Movement Disorders in Children

For many children with movement disorders, an early diagnosis—followed by prompt, appropriate treatment—is key to preserving mobility and preventing disability.

However, many pediatric movement disorders are rare. They can be difficult to diagnose, which can delay treatment or result in ineffective treatments.

Fortunately, the pediatric neurologists in our Movement Disorders Clinic have seen it all. We know how to identify the subtle differences among similar involuntary movements, such as tics and twitches. We’re also skilled at distinguishing one type of movement disorder from another, including those caused by:

  • Genetics
  • Infections or inflammation in the brain, such as encephalitis
  • Long-term use of certain medications
  • Underlying medical conditions 

By pinpointing the type of movement disorder your child has—and confirming whether we can treat the underlying cause—we can create a comprehensive, customized treatment plan for your child.

Types of Movement Disorders We Treat

Our team’s areas of expertise include the following conditions:

  • Ataxia. This condition impairs muscle coordination, causing clumsy or awkward movements. For example, your child may have a hard time bringing a fork from their plate to their mouth, or keeping their balance while walking.
  • Ballism. Children with ballism experience forceful flinging movements in the arms or legs. It can occur on one or both sides of the body.
  • Cerebral palsy. This congenital (present at birth) condition causes problems with muscle movement and/or muscle development. Patients may have very little muscle tone, or their muscles may be painfully tight.
  • Chorea. Children with chorea have writhing movements in their facial muscles or limbs. These movements often flow from one muscle group to another, as if the child is dancing.
  • Dystonia. With dystonia, muscles throughout the body contract on their own. Opposing muscle groups may contract at the same time, causing twisting movements or a bent posture.
  • Functional movement disorders. These are involuntary (uncontrollable) movements that suddenly occur in children and may mimic other neurological conditions. They often occur after severe stress or a traumatic event.
  • Hereditary spastic paraplegia. This term refers to a group of rare, genetic conditions. They cause leg stiffness and weakness that worsens over time.
  • Parkinsonism. This is another term that refers to a group of similar neurological conditions. They cause muscle stiffness, tremors and slowed movements.
  • Paroxysmal movement disorders. With these disorders, involuntary movements flare up from time to time. Between these “attacks” or episodes, patients typically have normal movement.
  • Stereotypies. These are repetitive, involuntary movements that occur in a consistent, predictable pattern.
  • Tics. Just like stereotypies, tics are repetitive, involuntary movements. However, they’re less predictable. They can occur in different areas of the body, and their frequency and severity change over time. Many children outgrow them.
  • Tourette syndrome. Some people have both motor tics (involuntary movements) and vocal tics (making involuntary sounds). Children who have both types of tics for more than a year usually are diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.