Apraxia

Apraxia happens when you are unable to do learned movements or signals. You may have the desire and the physical ability to do the movements, but you cannot. There are many types of apraxia.

  • Causes

    Apraxia is caused by diseases or damage in the brain, such as:

    • Stroke
    • Brain tumor
    • Brain injury
    • Infection

    • Brain disease, such as:

      • Alzheimer’s disease
      • Frontotemporal dementia—a syndrome associated with shrinking of the frontal and temporal anterior portions of the brain
      • Huntington’s disease
      • Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration (CBD)

  • Definition

    Apraxia happens when you are unable to do learned movements or signals. You may have the desire and the physical ability to do the movements, but you cannot. There are many types of apraxia.

    Stroke
    si1213 97870 1 Ischemic Stroke.jpg
    Stroke can cause brain damage, which can lead to apraxia.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:


    • A neurological exam—You may be asked to:

      • Copy posture, movement, and sequences
      • Draw shapes
      • Put together designs
      • Pick up or rotate coins
      • Select a tool, such as a hammer, and demonstrate how to use it
      • Arrange movements in sequence

    • Your doctor may need pictures of your brain. This can be done with:

      • MRI scan
      • CT scan
    • An exam of the muscles used in speech
    • A speech assessment
    • Evaluation of walking skills


    If you are diagnosed with apraxia, you could also have
    aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder.

  • Prevention

    It may be difficult to prevent this condition. It is strongly linked to stroke. Following steps to prevent stroke may help. Some of these steps include:

    • Exercise
      regularly.

    • Eat a
      healthy diet.
    • Quit smoking
      and limit how much alcohol you drink.
    • Check your blood pressure often.

  • Risk Factors

    Apraxia may be due to stroke. It is important to know the risk factors for stroke such as:

    • Increased age
    • Prior stroke or cardiovascular disease

    • Prior
      transient ischemic attack
      (TIA)
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Diabetes
    • Smoking
    • Dialysis
      treatment, which takes over the job of the kidneys when they fail

  • Symptoms

    Some common forms of apraxia and their symptoms include:

    • Buccofacial or orofacial apraxia—inability to make facial movements, such as winking, whistling, or sticking out the tongue
    • Apraxia of speech—difficulty performing the movements needed to make speech
    • Constructional apraxia—inability to copy or draw simple figures or to make two- or three-dimensional forms
    • Gait apraxia—difficulty walking, which can lead to an increased risk of falls
    • Conceptual apraxia—inability to select or use tools or objects properly, to make complex movements at the same time, and to do tasks in order
    • Limb-kinetic apraxia—inability to make fine, exact movements with hands or fingers such as handling coins
    • Ideomotor apraxia—inability to copy movements or make signals, or to do a function on command
    • Dressing apraxia—inability to dress oneself

  • Treatment

    Your treatment depends on what kind of apraxia you have. Families should ask about individualized treatment programs such as:

    • Physical therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Speech therapy
    • Cognitive rehabilitation

    It is also important to treat the cause of the apraxia.