The neurophysiology of paediatric movement disorders

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To demonstrate how neurophysiological tools have advanced our understanding of the pathophysiology of paediatric movement disorders, and of neuroplasticity in the developing brain.

Recent findings

Delineation of corticospinal tract connectivity using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is being investigated as a potential biomarker for response to therapy. TMS measures of cortical excitability and neuroplasticity are also being used to investigate the effects of therapy, demonstrating neuroplastic changes that relate to functional improvements. Analyses of evoked potentials and event-related changes in the electroencephalogaphy spectral activity provide growing evidence for the important role of aberrant sensory processing in the pathophysiology of many different movement disorders. Neurophysiological findings demonstrate that children with clinically similar phenotypes may have differing underlying pathophysiology, which in turn may explain differential response to therapy. Neurophysiological parameters can act as biomarkers, providing a means to stratify individuals, and are well suited to provide biofeedback. They therefore have enormous potential to facilitate improvements to therapy.

Summary

Although currently a small field, the role of neurophysiology in paediatric movement disorders is poised to expand, both fuelled by and contributing to the rapidly growing fields of neuro-rehabilitation and neuromodulation and the move towards a more individualized therapeutic approach.

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