What Is Adynamia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 01 January 2019
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Adynamia is a lack of motivation seen in patients with neurological conditions. The patient may have difficulty starting and completing activities. This can make it difficult to engage in tasks of daily living like self care, and can be a challenge in the workplace, especially if an employee is expected to be self-directed. There are a number of ways to address adynamia to make patients more independent, help them stay organized, and cope with individual episodes.

Injuries to the brain like traumatic brain injuries or lesions associated with degenerative brain disease can lead to fatigue and lethargy. Some patients develop muscle weakness and a general lack of vigor with progressive diseases or brain injuries. The areas of the brain involved in organizing and planning tasks can also be involved. Patients with adynamia may appear lazy or unfocused, when in fact they are incapable of initiating tasks on their own.

One way to cope with this condition is to create a clear, structured schedule. Patients with brain injuries may find it helpful to have an organized and planned list of activities for each day. They can work with family members and care providers to develop a schedule and enforce it. For example, the schedule might provide directions about when to eat, bathe, dress, and perform other tasks. These act as prompts to allow the patient to start, which can help get over the hurdle posed by adynamia.


Support from friends and family can also be beneficial. Patients may freeze up when presented with an unstructured question like “what would you like to do now?” Instead, someone could ask “would you like to eat lunch, or take a walk?” The presentation of several clear choices presents the patient with guidance. Clear opinions in response to questions from the patient can also be helpful. A family member might say “I’d like to go to the movies tonight” when asked what the family should do, instead of “I don’t know, what would you like to do?”

Assistance with task completion can also be important to those with this condition. Activities like occupational therapy may provide patients with tips and tricks on staying focused throughout a task so they can finish it. For example, the patient might have a clear order to follow in the shower. This ensures that the patient covers all key areas, and is successfully able to complete the activity instead of freezing up partway through.

Retaining independence after a brain injury or with a severe neurological disorder can be a challenge. In the case of adynamia, the patient needs direction and structure to complete tasks, but it is important to pay attention to feedback from the patient. Discomfort or agitation may be signs that the patient is not happy with suggestions or directions, and it may be necessary to adjust the plan.



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