Thoughts on Selected Movement Disorders Terminology and a Plea for Clarity

  • Ruth Helen Walker

Abstract

Description of the phenomenology of movement disorders requires precise and accurate terminology. Many of the terms that have been widely used in the literature are imprecise and open to interpretation. An examination of these terms and the assumptions implicit in their usage is important to improve communication and hence the definition, diagnosis, and treatment of movement disorders. I recommend that the term dyskinesia should be used primarily in the settings of Parkinson's disease and tardive dyskinesia, in which its clinical implications are relatively clear; it should not be used in other situations where a precise description could more usefully facilitate diagnosis and treatment. In general dyskinesia should be used in the singular form. Extrapyramidal is based upon obsolete anatomical concepts, is uninformative, and should be discarded. The term abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs) is similarly vague and uninformative, although is unlikely to be eliminated from the psychiatric literature. Movement disorder neurologists as teachers, clinicians, article reviewers, and journal editors have the responsibility to educate our colleagues regarding appropriate usage and the importance of employing correct descriptors.