Movement disorders

When you have a child that displays unusual or often-repeated body movements, you have a thousand questions. What’s going on? What can be done? When will it go away? Is it affecting other parts of my child’s life? What does the future hold?

The trauma of movement disorders can leave your child (and you) feeling lost and alone. You want the very best possible care for your child, delivered by providers who take a genuine interest. At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we understand your concerns.

Our physicians are highly motivated and knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating unusual movements and movement patterns in children and teens, from common tics and Tourette syndrome to more complex disorders.

Compassionate care

You have many choices for your child’s care, but you want providers who take the time to really know your child. At Children’s Hospital, we promise you’ll experience an unmatched level of personalized, compassionate care.

Movement disorders affect not only your child, but also your whole family. We understand the stress that a movement disorder can place on you, and offer counseling and education to equip you to deal with the condition and its effects on your child, you, and your family.

What are movement disorders?

The brain has a complex system that sends and receives messages that turn our thoughts into actions. For the system to work correctly, the brain and the parts it moves must work in harmony, with clear communication.

Sometimes these messages become garbled or aren’t sent or received properly, resulting in uncoordinated movements. This may be caused by disease or injury to the parts of the brain that control movement.

“Movement disorder” is a term that describes a collection of related disorders that are characterized by excess or unwanted movement, or which affect your child’s coordination.

As your child grows, it is normal for his or her movements to become less coordinated as their brain learns to cope with their changing bodies. However, movement disorders go beyond normal childhood klutziness.

Unfortunately, these problems often develop just when your child is beginning to explore his or her place in the world, and can contribute to difficulties in dealing with peers and others. Dealing with the condition early on will help ease your child’s physical, emotional, and social growth.

What to look for

  • Unwanted movements (slow, rapid or patterned) 
  • Unable to move as desired 
  • Blinking 
  • Injury to the movement centers of the brain

Movement disorders we treat 

Our specialists treat the full range of movement disorders, including:

  • Tics and Tourette syndrome – repeated movements that are compulsive and follow a specific pattern
  • Ataxia –incoordination of movements
  • Chorea – rapid involuntary movement
  • Conversion disorder (psychogenic movements) – unwanted movement that result from a psychological problem
  • Dystonia – twisting movements
  • Huntington’s disease – progressive disease that gets worse as nerves break down
  • Metabolic movement disorders – any movement disorder that is related to how the body makes or uses energy
  • Muscle spasms without weakness
  • Myoclonus – brief twitching
  • Parkinsonism – progressive disease that gets worse as nerves break down
  • Tardive dyskinesia – slow and repeated unwanted movements
  • Tremors – unwanted quivering of muscles
  • Abnormal movements – unwanted movements

Diagnosis & treatment

Early diagnosis at any age is important. Contact us with any concerns about unusual movements or movement patterns as soon as they appear.

After we review your child’s medical history, we perform a complete physical exam and then follow up with any needed testing. We then develop a goal-based, personalized treatment plan tailored to your child’s needs and abilities.

We offer a broad range of possible treatments, devoted to improving your child’s movement and allowing him or her to build self-confidence.

In addition, we offer a wide variety of medical equipment that will improve your child’s mobility. We’re dedicated to helping your child experience the joy and self-confidence that comes with independent movement.

A team like no other

Pediatric movement disorders are complex and require specialized knowledge, collaboration, and experience to diagnose and treat. That’s why we’ve assembled a multidisciplinary group of experts including:

  • Neurologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Occupational, physical, and speech therapists
  • Physiatrists (physical medicine & rehabilitation physicians)
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists

Your child is still growing, which means his or her healthcare needs are different from adults. With our pediatric expertise, we bring an experienced understanding of the special needs of children to our advanced diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders in children and young adults.

Our pediatric excellence has brought nationwide recognition of our resources and programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked us among the best in the nation in nine specialties in their 2015-16 Best Children's Hospitals report.

Many of our physicians are included on the 2013 Best Doctors in America List, representing 68 percent of Wisconsin’s pediatricians and pediatric specialists rated Best Doctors. These outstanding physicians include specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, physical medicine, and rehabilitation. Our academic partner, The Medical College of Wisconsin, brings many of the nation's most well respected doctors to our team.

Committed to high-quality care

When you choose Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, you’ll find all of your child’s diagnostic and treatment needs in one health care system. We take a team and family approach to treatment, and are committed to the very best possible outcomes for your child.

With state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, robust treatment options, and a specialist team dedicated to the idea that nothing matters more than our children, you can rest assured your child is in the very best hands.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important. Please contact us with any concerns about any unusual movements your child experiences or questions about our resources and treatment options. Call (414) 266-3464.