A 12-Year-Old Boy With Repetitive Motions: Osmosis USMLE Study Question

September 18, 2020

The patient is American soccer star Tim Howard, who has Tourette syndrome (TS). He was diagnosed with TS in the sixth grade and used sports to focus.

Coprolalia is the involuntary swearing or utterance of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. Etymologically, it is derived from the Greek word for "feces." Although the media has portrayed TS patients as generally and entertainingly coprolalic, this symptom only occurs in about 10% of patients.

The diagnosis of TS includes (1) multiple motor tics (eg, blinking, shrugging) and vocal tics (eg, humming, clearing the throat, yelling out a word or phrase), (2) for at least one year (the tics can occur many times a day, nearly every day, or off and on and usually occur in bouts), (3) with onset prior to age 18 years, (4) that are not due to medicine or other drugs or due to having another medical condition (eg, seizures, Huntington disease, postviral encephalitis).

Major Takeaway: Coprolalia occurs in about 10% of patients with TS. TS is a common genetic neurological disorder characterized by chronic motor and vocal tics beginning before adulthood. Affected individuals typically have repetitive, stereotyped movements or vocalizations (eg, blinking, sniffing, facial movements).

Read more about TS.

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