How are the involuntary athetoid movements of tardive dyskinesia (TD) assessed?

Updated: Oct 17, 2018
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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TD is commonly associated with involuntary athetoid movements (slow, snakelike writhing) of the extremities, including wiggling, twisting, and tapping the fingers and toes. To perform a full assessment, ask the individual to remove shoes and socks so that the movements of the toes and feet can be observed fully. Movements typically become constant during waking hours. Often, the individual cannot suppress them for longer than 1 second.

Guitar- and piano-playing movements and other flexion and extension movements of the fingers or wrists can be observed. Flexion and extension movements of the ankles and toes are characteristic. Dyskinetic movements of the neck, trunk, and pelvis are occasionally seen. Jerking movements of the abdomen and diaphragm, resulting in respiratory irregularity, may occur.

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