Printer Friendly

Writer's cramp: literally in your head.

A new study suggests that the hand and arm spasms of chronic writer's cramp are not just psychosomatic symptoms, as some psychologists thought. Instead, this often debilitating disorder may result from abnormal functioning in part of the brain, report two neurologists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Lee W. Tempel and Joel S. Perlmutter used PET scans, which highlight areas of increased blood flow, to gauge brain activity in six people, aged 24 to 72, suffering from writer's cramp in the right hand. They compared these brain scans with those of an age-matched control group of eight people without writer's cramp. The researchers made the PET scans after stimulating the hands of both groups with a vibrator.

On average, the people with writer's cramp showed only two-thirds as much blood flow in the sensorimotor cortex -- the brain region responsible for hand sensation and movement -- compared with controls, Tempel and Perlmutter found.

Although the volunteers with writer's cramp experienced symptoms only in the right hand and arm, their PET scans revealed reduced blood flow in the sensorimotor cortex on both sides of the brain. "This was a surprise," Tempel says, adding that it might explain why writer's cramp sufferers who learn to write with their other hand eventually develop symptoms in that hand as well. Tempell says the results also suggest that writer's cramp is a form of focal dystonia, a brain disorder characterized by involuntary muscle spasms.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Biomedicine
Author:Ezzell, Carol
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 23, 1991
Words:240
Previous Article:Watching the remembering brain at work.
Next Article:Receptor involved in brain injury found.
Topics:


Related Articles
Major awards to three SN writers.
Diane Edwards receives MS Society prize.
GIRLS' SOCCER: EL CAMINO REAL HEEDS WORDS, WIN ECR 2, G. HILLS 1.
A MIX OF PIGSKINS AND PICKLE JUICE.
PARACLETE CRUISES TO VICTORY PARACLETE 42, MONROE 12.
THAT'S LIFE; BIOSCIENCE THRIVES AS COMPUTERS GET THE ATTENTION.
ROYAL EARNS UNLIKELY TITLE : ROYAL 1, FOUNTAIN VLY 0.
MOORPARK LIBRARY BEGINS NEW CHAPTER : BRANCH TO FORMALLY CELEBRATE EXPANSION.
Heat illness: staying cool on the inside. (Side Lines).
Heat illness prevention tips. (Partner Advertorial).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters