The exact cause as to why people develop Dystonia is currently unknown for the majority of people. For a small group of people it occurs due to a gene mutation, brain injury, infection, secondary disorder, or as a result of medication. Pinning down the root of the condition is something that research is currently focusing on.
So far we know that for some unidentified reason there is an issue with a section of the brain called the Basal Ganglia. It is known that this region of the brain enhances activity in the motor cortex which controls the agonist and antagonist muscles. In a healthy person when they make a movement the way the muscles contract and relax is coordinated and harmonious. However with Dystonia there is a deficient inhibition in the antagonist muscles which can result in both sets of muscles contracting simultaneously. It’s not clear why this happens.
The Dystonia Society UK have a fantastic wealth of information on the ins and outs of Dystonia, which I would really recommend reading to find out more information on the condition. For now it seems unlikely that any one particular theory will be proven right in the immediate future, so I shall continue to personify my Dystonia into a cheeky little alien, it’s a far more entertaining cause.
Today has been such a fantastic and empowering day! I had been looking forward to today all week as I had planned to go out and see a few friends and then have a personal training session. Normally my friends would come to see me, and I would sit in the middle of my bed so that if I do have a Non Epileptic Seizure I am safe. Instead I went out to my friend’s house, and my mum left me there on my own. This was the first time I had been left in someone else’s house on my own since July 2012. This excited and scared me. It turned out that I had no reason to be scared as it went perfectly. I spent the time sitting down, laughing with them and for a few hours felt like a normal 20-year-old. This has given me confidence to venture out more, I know that eventually my little Dystonia alien will act up but I cannot let the fear of that keep me from trying to establish a normal social life.
I had not been able to see my Personal Trainer for a few weeks as my spasms had been so bad and more of my body had been affected (only my left leg is unaffected now). As usual I was really looking forward to today’s session. I love our sessions as I am doing something proactive that not only challenges my little Dystonia alien but makes me feel positive about myself.
In today’s session my dystonia attempted to act up, and we worked around it. I paused when the spasms made it to hard to do that particular exercise but carried on as soon as it released. It was an extremely good session and I only had one tiny Non Epileptic Attack and a handful of spasms in it, which I thought was fab considering it had been a few weeks and my body’s not been great recently.
My Personal Trainer and I had previously discussed trying out a TENS machine to try to counteract the spasms. Whilst my hand was in spasm, he put the TENS machine up to full power and within a few seconds the spasm in my hand had released. The theory behind this is that to use a set of muscles another set has to relax, so by stimulating the relaxed muscles the spasming ones had no choice but to relax. The positive outcome it seemed to be having amazed me, it was like having a remote control for my Dystonia alien. I have no idea if this will happen on other parts of the body or if stronger/different spasms will react so positively, however this is an exciting experiment that I am going to enjoy greatly. I am planning on videoing my hand in spasm and how the TENS relaxes it, so that I can show my consultant.
If anyone has tried using a TENS before for Dystonia please let me know, I would be extremely interested to hear how you got on with it. You can get in touch with me by either commenting on this post or by going to this page https://www.facebook.com/dystoniajourney where you can inbox me privately or comment publicly.
So it is getting to the time of year I love! The trees are turning beautiful colours, the air is getting cooler which always makes me start hoping for snow, and the shops start displaying amazing Christmas decorations. Just going out and about at this time of year puts a giant smile on my face. However my Dystonia alien has decided that he hates the cold! Every time we venture out into the cold, my Dystonia alien acts up, causing my right arm to spasm and shake violently.
I am therefore putting my foot down. The Dystonia alien may have control of the majority of my body but it shall not take control over my favourite time of year! I want to be able to go out in the snow! When out shopping today with my mum, we invested in some warm/fluffy mittens, and a lovely warm blanket to cover me up with when I am out in my wheelchair. My theory is if I wear loads of layers and cover myself up as much as possible then my body should hopefully not go into spasm.
It shall be another experiment, which hopefully turn out to be just as positive as the last.