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Apraxia: Neural Mechanisms And Functional Recovery.

A. Foundas
Published 2013 · Psychology, Medicine

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Apraxia is a cognitive-motor disorder that impacts the performance of learned, skilled movements. Limb apraxia, which is the topic of this chapter, is specific to disordered movements of the upper limb that cannot be explained by weakness, sensory loss, abnormalities of posture/tone/movement, or a lack of understanding/cooperation. Patients with limb apraxia have deficits in the control or programming of the spatial-temporal organization and sequencing of goal-directed movements. People with limb apraxia can have difficulty manipulating and using tools including cutting with scissors or making a cup of coffee. Two praxis systems have been identified including a production system (action plan and production) and a conceptual system (action knowledge). Dysfunction of the former produces ideomotor apraxia (e.g., difficulty using scissors), and dysfunction of the latter induces ideational apraxia (e.g., difficulty making a cup of coffee). Neural mechanisms, including how to evaluate apraxia, will be presented in the context of these two praxis systems. Information about these praxis systems, including the nature of the disordered limb movement, is important for rehabilitation clinicians to understand for several reasons. First, limb apraxia is a common disorder. It is common in patients who have had a stroke, in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer disease, in traumatic brain injury, and in developmental disorders. Second, limb apraxia has real world consequences. Patients with limb apraxia have difficulty managing activities of daily living. This factor impacts healthcare costs and contributes to increased caregiver burden. Unfortunately, very few treatments have been systematically studied in large numbers of patients with limb apraxia. This overview of limb apraxia should help rehabilitation clinicians to educate patients and caregivers about this debilitating problem, and should facilitate the development of better treatments that could benefit many people in the future.
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