Paroxysmal Motor Disorders

Motor disorders are neurological conditions that impair movement of the body. Paroxysmal refers to rare disorders that do this in an episodic way often in response to certain “triggers”. A lot of the time people with these conditions can move freely but will at times experience disabling symptoms that make it difficult for them to move. Triggers can be things like exercise, fever, environmental temperature or changes in blood potassium levels.

These conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life, they can make it difficult to be active or go anywhere independently and often cause social embarrassment. Many of them are genetic disorders and can run in families.

Motor disorders can be due to a problem in the way the brain instructs or controls movement or they can be due to a problem with the way muscles contract and relax to carry out movement. It can be very difficult to tell where the primary problem is e.g. brain or muscle and increasingly we are seeing some conditions that affect both brain and muscle. As these disorders are rare and symptoms quite unusual, patients often see multiple specialists over a long period of time before their condition is recognised, diagnosed and treated.

Our service brings together experts in brain and muscle disorders in an effort to speed up the time it takes to make a diagnosis and start treatment for patients.

General information

The paroxysmal motor disorders clinic is run by Dr Matthews and Prof Morgante. If you are referred to the clinic it will be to determine whether you have a paroxysmal motor disorder. If you already have a diagnosis you may still be referred for treatment. When you attend clinic you will be asked questions about your symptoms and be examined. You may also have neurophysiology tests (electrical recordings of the nerves and muscles), blood tests (including the option of genetic tests) and an ECG (electrical recording of the heart). Further tests including MRI scans may be arranged.