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What are the Different Types of Movement Disorder?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several ways to classify, discuss or define movement disorder. They can be talked about in reference to the conditions or diseases that might result in them. Alternately, they might be split into types of movement caused and then further classified by types of disorders that result in the varying movement anomalies. This second method can be very useful, and it can be said there are two ruling types of movement disorders called hypokinetic and hyperkinetic. The former refers to impaired movement states that in one or more areas, and the latter to movements in excess that are unplanned.

A variety of hypokinetic movement disorder causes and diseases can exist and these can range from mild illnesses that may be addressed to extremely severe and fatal illnesses. Some of those that tend to be most serious include multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s syndrome. Over time both of these conditions further restrict movement and can result in paralysis in many different areas of the body. Another illness like this is progressive supranuclear palsy, which also results in continued movement loss and is ultimately fatal.

Other types of hypokinetic movement disorder are not as severe, though they do pose challenges. Dyspraxia is a group of conditions that is known for causing clumsiness and slow development of gross and fine motor skills. This is most felt during childhood, but can persist if ignored. Intervention with occupational therapy may help offset some movement problems resulting in relatively normal development later.

Limited movement condition types are contrasted to hyperkinetic movement disorder varieties, where involuntary movements may occur frequently. Again, there are a variety of examples to choose from when discussing this set of illnesses or causes. Some people have tremors especially in the hands or the voice, that don’t have an underlying disease component.

This may be called essential tremor and it’s typically most noted when people try to do something, like write with a pencil, or it could be especially obvious when folks attempt to keep the hands in a certain posture. This can be caused suddenly by heavy metal exposure, thyroid disease, or by taking certain medications like lithium. Others will have the condition all their lives with first expression in early childhood.

Some conditions, like Tourette syndrome may manifest in involuntary movements like tics, which with treatment might be lessened in number. Other conditions that have too much movement cannot exercise any type of control, and examples can include Huntington’s disease, which results in movements that are jerky or called chorea. Interestingly, some conditions are both hypo and hyperkinetic. Parkinson’s diseases, for instance, has tremor and restricted movement, making it doubly challenging.

Movement disorder types may be mild and fixable, or extraordinarily difficult. They range in cause, expression, and treatment. Given the severity of some, any form of involuntary or restricted movement deserves medical attention. What may seem relatively harmless at first could progress to more severe symptoms at a later point.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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