, Volume 253, Issue 6, pp 731-734
Date: 06 Mar 2006

Ancient descriptions of movement disorders

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El Burgo de Osma (Soria, Spain) offers one of the best preserved medieval structures in Spain. The interior of the building conserves abundant samples of Romanesque art, and the tomb in polychromatic stone of the founder, San Pedro de Osma. We have classified those pieces of art that could represent descriptions of movement disorders.

In the main façade of the Cathedral, several statues representing prophets can be seen one of them is clearly different to the rest. This statue represents a man with abnormal cervical posture characterized by right rotation, head tilt and elevation of right shoulder.

The tomb includes several statues representing fragments of the life of San Pedro de Osma. Some of these figures show movement disorders. First, a woman with a baby in her arms who has marked head tilt to the left. Second a peasant without hands, perhaps amputated, this man has a head tilt to the right. We suggest that in the latter case ergotism can explain both manifestations: peripheral vascular disease leading to amputation, and cervical dystonia.

Finally, a statue of polychromatic wood represents a priest with stooped posture, half open mouth, staring expression and a very notorious anterocollis. The author probably depicted a man with parkinsonism.