Bradykinesia is a condition categorized by impairment of voluntary motor control and slow movements or freezing. This condition is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease or a side effect of certain drugs or can also result from several other conditions including a stroke or a brain tumour. A person with bradykinesia may take quite longer time than usual to carry out normal movements such as lifting the arms or legs.
When Parkinson’s progresses it can worsen bradykinesia and a person may be less able to move and respond to stimulus. However, this condition affects individuals in different ways. It is also related to akinesia that involves delaying responses, freezing during movement, or an inability to move.
Generally, people often interchange these words bradykinesia, hypokinesia, and akinesia, but they are different terms
Hypokinesia means “smallness of movement.”
Akinesia means “absence of movement.”
Bradykinesia means “slowness of movement.”
The most common symptom of bradykinesia is slow movements. Some of the other common symptoms that are associated with the condition include:
Slouching when walking
Dragging one or both feet when walking
No facial expressions
Freezing where the muscles become immobile, or freeze, for a period of time
Finding it hard to do tasks that are repetitive in nature like tapping fingers or clapping hands
Difficulty doing regular activities like buttoning clothes, brushing teeth, styling hair
For people with Parkinson’s disease, bradykinesia is the main cause of losing their ability to speak properly. Over a period of time, their voice will become milder and words will become hard to understand.
It also contributes to an increased risk of falling in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Bradykinesia is often caused due to a side effect of certain medications or Parkinson’s disease. However, the exact cause of this condition is not known. It seems to result from changes in nervous system networks that control movement.
Some of the other causes include:
Exposure to harmful toxins
Medications to treat psychosis
Fluid accumulation in the brain
Multiple system atrophy
Brain tumour or stroke
When diagnosing whether a person has Parkinson’s disease, the doctor may order a brain scan and other tests to help rule out other causes.
The physicians suggest the patients to do bradykinesia akinesia incoordination test, also known as the B.R.A.I.N. test to confirm the diagnosis. During the test, the patient is asked to tap keys rapidly on a keyboard with alternating fingers for one minute. The scores obtained will confirm the diagnosis. The scores include a number of correct keys stroked, number of wrong keys stroked, time taken to stroke the keys, and the time gaps between striking each key.
This test is most dependable for helping doctors diagnose the stage of bradykinesia.
The condition can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be managed with medications.
The most beneficial medications for bradykinesia are ones that increase dopamine action. Constant follow-up may help the doctor to adjust the dosage or change medications as required.
A surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation may help the patient, which involves surgically placing electrodes into specific points in the brain. Once the electrodes are in place, electrical impulses are sent to stimulate the brain at the electrode sites. This treatment is usually preferred for those with severe Parkinson’s disease who do not respond to medications.
Adopting certain lifestyle changes as part of the treatment plan may help the patient manage the symptoms which include:
Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vital nutrients.
Adding fibre rich foods to the meal.
Regular physical therapy that include exercises to increase strength, stamina, balance, and flexibility such as walking and swimming.
Taking necessary measures to help prevent falling.