Friday, October 25, 2019


Dreissen YEM, Cath DC, Tijssen MAJ. Functional jerks, tics, and paroxysmal movement disorders. Handb Clin Neurol. 2016;139:247-258.

Functional jerks are among the most common functional movement disorders. The diagnosis of functional jerks is mainly based on neurologic examination revealing specific positive clinical signs. Differentiation from other jerky movements, such as tics, organic myoclonus, and primary paroxysmal dyskinesias, can be difficult. In support of a functional jerk are: acute onset in adulthood, precipitation by a physical event, variable, complex, and inconsistent phenomenology, suggestibility, distractibility, entrainment and a Bereitschaftspotential preceding the movement. Although functional jerks and tics share many similarities, characteristics differentiating tics from functional jerks are: urge preceding the tic, childhood onset, rostrocaudal development of the symptoms, a positive family history of tics, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and response to dopamine antagonist medication. To differentiate functional jerks from organic myoclonus, localization of the movements can give direction. Further features in support of organic myoclonus include: insidious onset, simple and consistent phenomenology, and response to benzodiazepines or antiepileptic medication. Primary paroxysmal dyskinesias and functional jerks share a paroxysmal nature. Leading in the differentiation between the two are: a positive family history, in combination with video recordings revealing a consistent symptom pattern in primary paroxysmal dyskinesias. In this chapter functional jerks and their differential diagnoses will be discussed in terms of epidemiology, symptom characteristics, disease course, psychopathology, and supportive neurophysiologic tests.

Demartini B, Ricciardi L, Parees I, Ganos C, Bhatia KP, Edwards MJ. A positive diagnosis of functional (psychogenic) tics. Eur J Neurol. 2015 Mar;22(3):527-e36. 

Functional tics, also called psychogenic tics or pseudo-tics, are difficult to diagnose because of the lack of diagnostic criteria and their clinical similarities to organic tics. The aim of the present study was to report a case series of patients with documented functional tics and to describe their clinical characteristics, risk factors and psychiatric comorbidity. Also clinical tips are suggested which might help the differential diagnosis in clinical practice.

Eleven patients (mean age at onset 37.2, SD 13.5; three females) were included with a documented or clinically established diagnosis of functional tics, according to consultant neurologists who have specific expertise in functional movement disorders or in tic disorders. Adult onset, absent family history of tics, inability to suppress the movements, lack of premonitory sensations, absence of pali-, echo- and copro-phenomena, presence of blocking tics, the lack of the typical rostrocaudal tic distribution and the coexistence of other functional movement disorders were common in our patients.

Our data suggest that functional tics can be differentiated from organic tics on clinical grounds, although it is also accepted that this distinction can be difficult in certain cases. Clinical clues from history and examination described here might help to identify patients with functional tics.

Versace V, Campostrini S, Sebastianelli L, Soda M, Saltuari L, Lun S, Nardone R, Kofler M. Adult-Onset Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome: Psychogenic or Organic? The Challenge of Abnormal Neurophysiological Findings. Front Neurol. 2019 May 3;10:461.

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is characterized by multiple motor and vocal tics. Adult-onset cases are rare and may be due to "reactivation" of childhood tics, or secondary to psychiatric or genetic diseases, or due to central nervous system lesions of different etiologies. Late-onset psychogenic motor/vocal tics resembling GTS have been described. Neurophysiology may serve to differentiate organic from functional GTS. Altered blink reflex pre-pulse inhibition (BR-PPI), blink reflex excitability recovery (BR-ERC), and short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) have been described in GTS. We report a 48-years-old male, who developed numerous motor/vocal tics 2 months after sustaining non-commotional craniofacial trauma in a car accident. Both his father and brother had died earlier in car crashes. He presented with blepharospasm-like forced lid closure, forceful lip pursing, noisy suction movements, and deep moaning sounds, occurring in variable combinations, without warning symptoms or internal "urge." Tics showed low distractibility and these increased with attention. Standard magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, and evoked potentials were unremarkable. Neuropsychology diagnosed moderately impaired intellect, attention, and executive functions. Psychiatric assessment revealed somatization disorder and generalized anxiety. BR-PPI was unremarkable, while BR-ERC was enhanced, even showing facilitation at short intervals. SICI was markedly reduced at 1 and 3 ms and intracortical facilitation (ICF) was enhanced at 10 ms. The patient fulfilled Fahn and Williams' diagnostic criteria for a psychogenic movement disorder. Neurophysiology, however, documented hyperexcitability of motor cortex and brainstem. We suggest that-similar to what has been reported in psychogenic dystonia-a pre-existing predisposition may have led to the functional hyperkinetic disorder in response to severe psychic stress.

Tan EK. Psychogenic tics: diagnostic value of the placebo test. J Child Neurol. 2004 Dec;19(12):976-7.

Motor tics are characterized by abrupt onset of brief, unsustained focal movements that are usually preceded by a premonitory sensation and are suppressible. Psychogenic tics (pseudotics) are rarely described. It may not be easy to distinguish organic from functional tics because they can coexist. Using a case illustration, the value of a "staged" placebo test in aiding the diagnosis of psychogenic tics is described. In addition, a concise summary of the clinical phenomenology of tics and the diagnosis and management of psychogenic movement disorders is provided.

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