More Than Ataxia: Hyperkinetic Movement Disorders in Childhood Autosomal Recessive Ataxia Syndromes
Background: The autosomal recessive ataxias are a heterogeneous group of disorders that are characterized by complex neurological features in addition to progressive ataxia. Hyperkinetic movement disorders occur in a significant proportion of patients, and may sometimes be the presenting motor symptom. Presentations with involuntary movements rather than ataxia are diagnostically challenging, and are likely under-recognized.
Methods: A PubMed literature search was performed in October 2015 utilizing pairwise combinations of disease-related terms (autosomal recessive ataxia, ataxia–telangiectasia, ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 1 (AOA1), ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2 (AOA2), Friedreich ataxia, ataxia with vitamin E deficiency), and symptom-related terms (movement disorder, dystonia, chorea, choreoathetosis, myoclonus).
Results: Involuntary movements occur in the majority of patients with ataxia–telangiectasia and AOA1, and less frequently in patients with AOA2, Friedreich ataxia, and ataxia with vitamin E deficiency. Clinical presentations with an isolated hyperkinetic movement disorder in the absence of ataxia include dystonia or dystonia with myoclonus with predominant upper limb and cervical involvement (ataxia–telangiectasia, ataxia with vitamin E deficiency), and generalized chorea (ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 1, ataxia-telangiectasia).
Discussion: An awareness of atypical presentations facilitates early and accurate diagnosis in these challenging cases. Recognition of involuntary movements is important not only for diagnosis, but also because of the potential for effective targeted symptomatic treatment.