The human being is movement. As with most animals, our survival depends on it: eating, finding shelter, reproducing, or escaping potential dangers are actions that require both the ability to sense and respond to external stimulation. And this reaction requires adapting to a few tempos: if we don’t run, we will be devoured.
While most people today are no longer at risk of being eaten by a predator, the truth is that we face many environmental demands that require complex movement sequences. But some people have difficulty not being able to evolve at a normative pace. This is what happens to people with bradykinesia.
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Bradynesie: what is it?
It is known as bradykinesia a the condition characterized by slowing of movement, Without it being necessary that this slowdown also occur at the cognitive level. Bradykinesia is not seen as a disorder per se, but rather as a symptom of the existence of another type of problem or disorder.
Usually and unless we are dealing with a neurological problem, the subject may be aware of their sluggishness, which in turn can lead to discomfort, stress and frustration. There is usually a reduction in movements and the initiative to perform them, as the sequence of movements is more complex and less functional. This may be due to both bradykinesia and loss of motivation to do them when observing their slowness. Although not technically necessary, bradykinesia usually accompanied by hypotonia or decreased muscle toneThis can further hamper the functionality of the iron making the movement not only slower but less strong.
It should be noted that bradykinesia involves a slowing down of movement, but that the specific speed of this will depend mainly on the premorbid levels of the subject. A person’s movements are already slow in case they don’t have bradykinesia unless a decrease in their normal speed is detected.
This problem, although it may seem minor, can have serious repercussions on the lives of those who suffer from it. For example, in terms of employment many jobs require a certain pace in order to be able to carry them out efficiently (Especially if it is work requiring manual handling), which can lead to a slowing down of the engine disabling professional exercise. It should also be noted that certain activities can become dangerous, such as driving a car.
Although mentally there is no said slowdown, if we are not able to react quickly enough, we can suffer different types of accidents. Socially, bradykinesia is often seen as clumsiness and in some cases where the subject’s condition is not known, it can cause rejection or ridicule. It is important to keep in mind that the experience of this symptom and the reaction of others it can cause alterations in self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy and the competence of the subject, being able to modify his emotional state.
A possible cause of this symptom
The onset of motor retardation or bradykinesia can be the result of a large number of factors, and there is no single possible cause for this. Indeed, it should be noted that motor delay can have a cause that is both medico-physiological and psychogenic.
At the psychogenic level, it is possible to find alterations such as bradykinesia when suffering from depressive episodes, due to a lack of sleep and energy. or the continued experience of stress or anxiety, As well as in other mental disorders such as schizophrenia (although in this case the reason may be more neurological).
At a more biological level, it is possible to observe how bradykinesia can be a consequence of an alteration of the nervous system, being a possible cause of hyper or hypoactivity of the basal ganglia and its connection with the motor cortex. and muscles. As for neurotransmitters, it has generally been found to be associated with bradykinesia the existence of low dopamine levels, Or a reduction of the usual. It can also be the product of demyelination of motor neurons, losing the transmission of information much of its speed.
While in either case, they typically exhibit a wide variety of symptoms, bradykinesia is one of them. Thus, the existence of neurological problems is one of the possible causes of this symptom. It can also occur due to the effects (temporary or not) of using substances or even certain medications.
Finally, it must be said that there is no need for a problem for bradykinesia to appear: the appearance of a certain motor slowdown it is common and normal during aging, Be common as we get older.
Disorders in which it occurs
Brachinesia, as we have said, can present itself in a large number of situations both medical and psychiatric.
It has traditionally been viewed as a symptom that is deeply linked (and is part of the diagnostic criteria) to Parkinson’s disease. In this disorder, in which the progressive degeneration of neurons in the black streak path occurs, disturbances and alterations in movement such as Parkinson’s tremors or slow motion and gait appear.
It is also a common element in many dementias, especially in the subcortical (associated with Parkinson’s disease, being where bradykinesia is more characteristic) but also in the cortex. For example, bradykinesia can be found in Alzheimer’s disease as it progresses.
In addition to this, other neurological issues can also lead to bradykinesia. An example is found in neuropathies and disorders such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as other diseases of the neuromuscular junction. here too diseases such as diabetes can also lead to loss of psychomotor efficiency and speed long-term (although the change is usually minor, except in people with severe neuropathy).
On the other hand, as we have already mentioned, we can also find bradykinesia in mental problems such as depression, in which anhedonia and depressed mood generate weaker reaction capacity, decreased movement. and reflection. and lower energy levels. The same goes for schizophrenia, in patients with negative symptoms, Take catatonia. Substance abuse and addiction can also lead to bradykinesia.
Can bradykinesia be treated?
Bradykinesia, as we mentioned, it is not a disorder but rather a symptom. This is why your treatment will in fact be based on overcoming the disorder or the element that generated it.
Treating depression, stress, or exhaustion can help eliminate the problem if we are dealing with some type of psychogenic cause. For this, different types of strategies are recommended, such as performing pleasurable activities, cognitive restructuring in case of dysfunctional beliefs and other types of psychotherapy useful for the problem in question (eg expressive). Establishing appropriate sleep, exercise and nutrition schedules can also have an influence. For schizophrenia, pharmacological treatment can help stabilize the patient and reduce bradykinesia if it is not caused by neuronal degeneration and death.
If the cause is neurological, there may be no cure. However, since many of the problems that cause it are caused by dopaminergic issues, the use of medicines which stimulate its synthesis, increase the levels of dopamine or generate agonist effects on it can be very effective in reducing or temporarily eliminating the symptoms (e.g. dopa given to patients with Parkinson’s disease). It is also recommended that the practice of physiotherapy, stimulation and rehabilitation can improve the motor performance of patients, as well as occupational therapy.
In any case, psychoeducation to learn to understand what is happening, why or how to deal with it can become essential. It is also recommended that there is a space in which the subject can express his doubts, concerns and thoughts.