Basal ganglia dysfunction

Definition 
Basal ganglia dysfunction involves dysfunction of the basal ganglia, a brain region involved in motor control and movement.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors  

Numerous brain disorders can be associated basal ganglia dysfunction, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, multiple system atrophy, Wilson disease, and dystonia.

In addition, any insult to the brain can potentially damage the basal ganglia including strokes, metabolic abnormalities, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, infections, tumors, drug overdoses or side effects, and head trauma.
When the basal ganglia are damaged, control over functions such as speech and movement may be impaired. Difficulties with starting movement, sustaining movement and stopping movement are all possible when this area is injured.

Symptoms  
Symptoms vary and may include tremor, slowing of movements, difficulty walking, rigidity, involuntary movements, muscle spasms, increased muscle tone, and tics (uncontrollable, repeated movements, speech, or cries).

Signs and tests  
A thorough neurological assessment should be performed. Depending on the outcome of this evaluation, blood tests and possibly imaging studies of the brain may be required.

Treatment  
Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder.

Expectations (prognosis)
 
Prognosis depends on the cause of the dysfunction. Some causes are reversible, others require lifelong treatment.

Calling your health care provider  
Call your health care provider if you have any abnormal or involuntary movements.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.

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