• Roongroj Bhidayasiri
  • Daniel Tarsy
Part of the Current Clinical Neurology book series (CCNEU)


Athetosis refers to continuous involuntary movements of the distal extremities, usually involving the digits, hands, and feet. Pseudoathetosis is characterized by very similar involuntary, slow, writhing movements of the digits and distal extremities occurring with the eyes closed which closely resembles athetosis. This disorder is caused by impaired proprioception, while in athetosis there is no sensory loss. The lesion responsible for pseudoathetosis may be located anywhere in sensory pathways between peripheral nerve and parietal cortex, including especially posterior columns in cervical cord and thalamus. Most patients are unaware of abnormal movements when their eyes are closed. Opening or closing the eyes may have an inconsistent effect on the severity of the movements.


Muscle Strength Peripheral Nerve Plantar Response Neck Pain Parietal Cortex 
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Supplementary material

The patient exhibits continuous choreoathetotic movements of the fingers of both hands. Both index fingers display repeated dystonic postures. When she closes her eyes, the involuntary movements appear to worsen. Her gait is unsteady on a narrow base, and she requires assistance to walk.

Pseudoathetosis.mp4 (MP4 14,931KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roongroj Bhidayasiri
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Tarsy
    • 3
  1. 1.Chulalongkorn Center of Excellence on Parkinson’s Disease and Related DisordersChulalongkorn University HospitalBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyHarvard Medical School Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBostonUSA

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