Donate to Dystonia Research, Patient Care and Education

In 2019, more than 200,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with dystonia, an incurable movement disorder that causes the muscles to involuntarily contract, leading to twitching and repetitive movements. Irregular posture, spasms and awkward movements are also signs of dystonia. By making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help specialists at Northwestern Medicine to continue to advance clinical trials and research aimed at discovering new diagnostic and treatment options for people afflicted with dystonia.

While the exact cause of dystonia is not known, it is thought to be a symptom of other similar diseases or conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Wilson’s disease, birth or brain injuries, stroke, brain tumors or oxygen deprivation. Scientists also have identified genetic forms of dystonia. An alteration of the nerve cell communication in the brain is the biological process that triggers dystonia.

Symptoms of dystonia can be present in the neck, eyelids, voice or jaw. The entire body or one localized area of the body may be affected. Muscle contractions, twisting movements and voice tremors are all signs of dystonia. These symptoms may worsen over the course of the day as a result of fatigue or anxiety.

With the help of philanthropy, teams of specialists at Northwestern Medicine are able to diagnose dystonia using a variety of tests. Blood and urine tests, MRIs and CAT scans, as well as EMG testing, are used to identify the location of affected muscles affected and to determine the severity of a patient’s condition. Physicians may also order genetic testing depending on a patient’s family history.  Treatment options vary with the severity of the diagnosis, the patient’s general health and age, and the progression of the disease. Medications, including injections of Botox into affected muscles, as well as physical, speech and occupational therapy, are part of comprehensive treatment plans available to patients at Northwestern Medicine. Deep brain stimulation and surgery are additional options depending on the overall health of the patient.  Lifestyle changes are also utilized to treat dystonia. Sensory pressure to reduce spasms, hot and cold compresses on affected muscle areas and stress management are techniques recommended to lessen the severity of symptoms. Deep breathing, biofeedback and yoga are also targeted therapies that are designed to relax muscles.

Dystonia Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

Your generous donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will help to ensure that Northwestern Medicine remains on the leading edge of the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of dystonia. Your gift has the power to positively affect the lives of many people affected by this challenging condition.

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