What is the role of the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) in the evaluation of tardive dyskinesia (TD)?

Updated: Oct 17, 2018
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
  • Print


The most widely used instrument is the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) developed by the Psychopharmacology Research Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (see the image below). [39] Because the AIMS can be readily administered in a few minutes, it is recommended in patients receiving treatment with substances that may cause TD. Administer the AIMS at baseline before the institution of pharmacotherapy to document any movements present, then at least every 3 months thereafter during the course of treatment.

Part of the AIMS assessment includes observation of the patient when he or she is distracted by other activities. Patients may suppress movements while concentrating intensely. Therefore, administration of the AIMS can be supplemented by requesting that the patient perform additional tasks during the assessment. Movements may then be demonstrated when the patient is concentrating on the additional tasks.

For example, during the administration of item 5 of the AIMS assessment, have the patient sit in a chair with hands on knees, legs slightly apart, and feet flat on the floor. Examine the entire body for movements while the patient is in this position, then ask the patient to count backwards from 30.

In addition, during item 5 of the AIMS, ask the patient to sit with hands hanging unsupported (between the legs if male, or hanging over the knees if female and wearing a dress). Observe the hands and other body areas, then request that the patient describe in detail the path traveled that day. Ask the patient where the trip started, what streets were traveled, where turns were made, where the trip terminated, and what floor and room were entered. These procedures stimulate the patient and may provoke the appearance of movement disorders.

The AIMS may be modified to allow repeated brief assessments during the course of a single patient examination to check for possible effects of interventions. In other words, by administering the modified AIMS regularly after the administration of a treatment, the time course of abnormal movements may be regularly recorded and plotted. [40]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!