J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 74:1154-1156 doi:10.1136/jnnp.74.8.1154
  • Short report

The effect of fatigue on abnormal vibration induced illusion of movement in idiopathic focal dystonia

  1. N Frima,
  2. S M Rome,
  3. R A Grünewald
  1. Academic Neurology Unit, Division of Genomic Medicine, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Richard A Grünewald, Section of Clinical Neurology, N Floor, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK; 
  • Received 25 July 2002
  • Accepted 14 November 2002
  • Revised 13 November 2002


Background: Perception of vibration induced illusionary movement (VIIM) is subnormal in dystonic patients, suggesting abnormal sensory-motor processing in patients with idiopathic focal dystonia.

Objective: To examine the effects of fatigue on VIIM in patients with idiopathic torticollis.

Methods: An illusionary sensation of arm extension was evoked by an 80 Hz transcutaneous vibratory stimulus applied to the biceps brachii tendon while the arm was restrained. Blindfolded patients attempted to copy the perceived movement of the vibrated arm with the opposite (tracking) arm and the change in elbow angle of the tracking arm was quantified over 45 seconds. The tasks were repeated following volitional fatigue of the vibrated arm.

Results: The subnormal perception of VIIM perceived by patients with torticollis, occurring bilaterally and remote from the location of dystonic symptoms, was corrected by fatigue of the vibrated arm compared with prefatigue values (mean (SEM): 19.04° (1.76)° v 24.25° (2.41°); p = 0.01, paired t test).

Conclusions: While a combination of central or peripheral factors may be involved in the correction of abnormal perception of the vibration induced illusion of movement in dystonia, subnormal elasticity of muscle spindles could be implicated in the impaired perception of vibration induced illusionary movement and may predispose an individual towards developing idiopathic focal dystonia.


  • Competing interests: none declared

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