Basal ganglia dysfunction

Basal ganglia dysfunction is a problem with the basal ganglia, the deep brain structures that help start and control movement.

Causes

Conditions that cause injury to the brain can damage the basal ganglia. Such conditions include:

  • Drug overdose
  • Head injury
  • Infection
  • Liver disease
  • Metabolic problems
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Stroke
  • Tumors

Many brain disorders are associated with basal ganglia dysfunction. They include:

  • Dystonia
  • Huntington's disease
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Wilson's disease

This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms

Damage to the basal ganglia cells may cause problems with one's ability to control speech, movement, and posture. A person with basal ganglia dysfunction may difficulty starting, stopping, or sustaining movement. Depending on which area is affected, there may also be problems with memory and other thought processes.

In general, symptoms vary and may include:

  • Movement changes, such as:
    • Involuntary movements
    • Slowed movements
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Muscle spasms and muscle rigidity
  • Memory loss
  • Problems finding words
  • Tremor
  • Uncontrollable, repeated movements, speech, or cries (tics)
  • Walking difficulty

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a complete physical and neurological exam. Depending on the results, blood tests and imaging studies of the brain may be needed.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the cause of the dysfunction. Some causes are reversible, while others require lifelong treatment.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have any abnormal or involuntary movements, unexplainable falls, or if you or others notice that you are shaky or slow.