Dystonia Specialist Forest Lake MN

Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder, next to Parkinson’s disease and Tremor, affecting at least 300,000 people in North America. It is a neurological condition that results in sustained and involuntary contractions of opposing muscles, which leads to spasmodic movements, twisting, and abnormal stances.

Kenneth Baunbeck Hoj, MD
(651) 221-9051
Forest Lake, MN
Specialties
Neurology
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Univ Of Mn Med Sch-Minneapolis, Minneapolis Mn 55455
Graduation Year: 1983

Data Provided by:
Mary Elizabeth Dunn, MD
(651) 227-7088
2425 S Shore Blvd
White Bear Lake, MN
Specialties
Neurological Surgery
Gender
Female
Education
Medical School: Creighton Univ Sch Of Med, Omaha Ne 68178
Graduation Year: 1980

Data Provided by:
Craig Lee Hyser, MD
Saint Paul, MN
Specialties
Neurology
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Oh State Univ Coll Of Med, Columbus Oh 43210
Graduation Year: 1980

Data Provided by:
Donna Marie Koning
(651) 439-1234
1500 Curve Crest Blvd W
Stillwater, MN
Specialty
Neurology

Data Provided by:
Patrick R Stokes
(651) 439-4840
1875 Northwestern Ave S
Stillwater, MN
Specialty
Neurology

Data Provided by:
Kenneth Hoj
(651) 982-7690
5200 Fairview Blvd
Wyoming, MN
Specialty
Neurology

Data Provided by:
Christopher Manuel Gomez, MD
(612) 624-1477
Saint Paul, MN
Specialties
Neurology
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Univ Of Chicago, Pritzker Sch Of Med, Chicago Il 60637
Graduation Year: 1983

Data Provided by:
Karen Ke-Jui Hsiao, MD
(651) 484-7071
Saint Paul, MN
Specialties
Neurology
Gender
Female
Education
Medical School: Harvard Med Sch, Boston Ma 02115
Graduation Year: 1982

Data Provided by:
David Logan Webster, MD
(763) 427-8320
Saint Paul, MN
Specialties
Neurology
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Univ Of Mn Med Sch-Minneapolis, Minneapolis Mn 55455
Graduation Year: 1977

Data Provided by:
Dianne Susan Wolf, MD
(612) 371-1600
Saint Paul, MN
Specialties
Neurology
Gender
Female
Education
Medical School: Univ Of Mn Med Sch-Minneapolis, Minneapolis Mn 55455
Graduation Year: 1977

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Life with Dystonia

Provided by: 

By Ellen L. Weisberg, PhD

Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder, next to Parkinson’s disease and Tremor, affecting at least 300,000 people in North America. It is a neurological condition that results in sustained and involuntary contractions of opposing muscles, which leads to spasmodic movements, twisting, and abnormal stances. Like Parkinson’s disease, dystonia is believed to be due to an abnormality in the basal ganglia of the brain, where movement is controlled.

The symptoms of dystonia first surfaced when I was in the middle of a radio shift, getting ready to record what I thought would be another effortless 30-second broadcast in a string of reports. Halfway through it, the left side of my mouth started twisting inward, making it difficult for me to talk. At the time, I remember wondering if there was something with my delivery style that had- over time- become subtly different… Was my chair too high or too low and I was straining my neck to get to the microphone? Did it have to do with the amount of gesturing I was doing with my hands when I talked?

As time went on, though, the difficulties I was having with my broadcasting increased, and getting the job done comfortably and in a timely fashion was becoming more and more of a struggle. My coworkers thought that maybe I was having sudden “stage fright,” or that it was simply stress that was causing this, since my conversational speech away from the microphone seemed normal. It was only when I saw a neurologist that the situation became clearer: I was diagnosed with a “focal dystonia,” which targets a specific part of the body and usually afflicts people at mid-life. My condition, “task- specific oromandibular dystonia,” causes the jaw to either be clamped shut or held open and is brought on at least in part by repetitive movements. I had been doing two and a half years of daily broadcasting for hours on end, repeating similar phrases and articulating in a way that was different from my regular, away-from-the-microphone speech. I tried to return to broadcasting several times when the symptoms of the dystonia had temporarily quieted down, only to have to quit again when the condition would relapse. The symptoms eventually slipped over into my conversational speech, and there were times they were so debilitating that I thought I’d never be able to hold a normal conversation again.

I had consulted a second neurologist who prescribed Artane, an anticholinergic agent that improves muscle control in Parkinson’s patients. After a brief honeymoon, “fool’s gold”-kind of experience with the drug that lasted only a few days during which my speech seemed more effortless, the Artane lost its effects. My neurologist also tried administering Botox injections on the side of my mouth where muscles were twisting in such a way as to make speaking difficult. However, it was shortly after the injections that the condition relapsed to the point where I could barely talk at all. Continuing...

Author: Ellen L. Weisberg, PhD

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