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It actually refers to the inability to stand upright due to lack of motor coordination. Patients, however, are able to move their legs naturally while walking or lying down. Although this condition seems to be psychogenic, it is classified by experts as a ‘conversion disorder’ based on its symptoms.
The name of this condition Originated from a Greek term “Astasia-abasia.” The term ‘astasia’ means an inability to stand and ‘abasia’ refers to the inability to walk properly. The disease is also known as “Blocq’s disease” named after Paul Blocq who first diagnosed and described this condition.
The exact causes of the disease are still unknown to medical experts although they have outlined a few factors which are possibly responsible for the occurrence of this disorder. This condition is believed to be the impact of extreme emotional disturbances such as stress or any other psychiatric trouble. Research has shown that affected individuals also suffer from depression. This disorder may also occur due to certain injury or physical abuse.
Children may develop this condition if they face extreme sexual and physical abuse. Certain kinds of phobias, such as basiphobia, basophobia or stasiphobia, are also found to be related with this disorder. Basiphobia is the fear of falling while walking and standing upright.
The condition has certain typical characteristics, such as:
- Difficulty in walking
- Waddling movements like a duck
- Arms thrown out violently to keep balance
- Odd gyrations of the body
- Stiffness of muscles
- Knees getting buckled and the body shaking when patients try to stand upright
- Jumping fits without motor control
- Possible loss of sense in the lower limbs and experiencing paralysis
- Dragging of feet while walking
- Sensory disturbances
- Hunched posture, with head and neck bending in forward direction
Patients affected by this condition often exhibit unusual and dramatic disturbances; for instance – swaying violently in various directions and falling when someone approaches near to catch them.
Astasia abasia Diagnosis
There are no proper diagnostic methods for this unusual syndrome. The diagnosis is done primarily on the basis of the potential signs that manifest themselves. According to medical experts, there might be a possibility of presence of certain neurological disorders in severe cases.
Certain signs that help in the detection of this disorder include the following:
- Numbness or paralysis of the lower body part
- Normal strength in muscles opposite the paralyzed muscles
- Reflexes are normal
Tests which are conducted are done generally for detecting neurological problems. EMG or electromvogram and Nerve Conduction Velocity testing are found to be normal in muscles which are paralyzed. Electroencephalogram (EEG) tends to be normal in seizures that occur in this conversion disorder. In limbs that have no sense, the Somato Sensory Evoked Potential testing result will be normal.
Astasia abasia Treatment
The treatment for this disorder includes a combination of therapies. There are separate programs to bring stability and positivity in the life of the patient, reduce pain and enhance fitness.
Psychotherapy is used in case of patients suffering from psychological disturbances and extreme mental stress. Occupational therapy is provided to treat sufferers by improvising their motor movements and also reasoning capabilities. Physical and exercise therapies are provided to help teach affected individuals cope with their movement disability and gain strength. Poor balance can be managed by the use of a cane or a walker. Leg braces and in-shoe splints, if provided, can help patients to get the foot alignment right for standing and walking. Group therapy teaches patients to overcome their disabilities and interact with others so that they can have a normal social life. Pharmaceutical drugs are available to treat excess anxiety and depressive disorders.
Astasia abasia Prognosis
The recovery of patients in this disorder is good. The symptoms generally disappear within 2 weeks. Although some individuals may recover really fast there are high risks of a recurrence within the first 1 year. The disability may get more complicated if the environment is chaotic and not supportive. Patients should be kept under strict observance to ensure that the symptoms do not make a comeback. Also, family members and dear ones should make sure that the sufferer is kept away from stressful situations. Serious neurological disorders, if present, should be treated immediately.