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Symptoms and Causes of Movement Disorders


Movement disorder symptoms vary by specific diagnosis and gradually increase. Some common indications for potential further examination may include recurrence of:

  • Excessively slow walking
  • Stiffness
  • Tremor
  • Abnormal posture
  • Loss of balance
  • Incoordination
  • Involuntary movement
  • Abnormal movement
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Twitches
  • Muscle spasm
  • Frequent falls


The underlying causes of movement disorders vary by diagnosis and sometimes remain unknown. Factors that may potentially influence the development of movement disorders include infections, inflammation, stroke, toxins, trauma, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, genetic diseases and reactions to certain medications. It is believed that heredity and environmental triggers also play important roles in development of movement disorders.

Significant progress in research has been made to pinpoint exactly why these diseases and changes occur, in order to discover effective treatments for the root causes of these diseases. Researchers at the University of Chicago conduct rigorous clinical and laboratory investigations into common and rare movement disorders. We also closely monitor medical progress throughout the world to help benefit patients.

In Parkinson’s disease, production of a chemical in the brain called dopamine decreases due to the progressive loss of dopaminergic cells, which produce dopamine. These cells are lost mainly because of an abnormal accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Understanding what makes the alpha-synuclein protein accumulate in these brain cells is a major focus of PD research.

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