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Akinesia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What Is Akinesia?

Akinesia is a medical condition in which there is absence of normal motor functions or slowness in a person, which causes impaired muscle movements.1 Basically patient suffering from akinesia does not have any normal bodily movements. Akinesia can be caused by paralysis (temporary or permanent), or being in a coma. Akinesia might interfere with all parts of body or only one region in the body.

Majority of antipsychotic drugs cause akinesia as a side effect. In akinesia, patient is apathetic in nature and there is decrease in unplanned movements. All these side effects are similar to the apathy and slowness, which is associated with depression or schizophrenia and for this reason akinesia can be frequently misdiagnosed or left untreated.


Causes of Akinesia

Akinesia can be caused by a number of medical ailments which resemble Parkinson’s disease.2 However, it is not clear which causes the abnormal nerve functioning, which is connected to these types of disorders, so, the exact cause behind akinesia is not clear. There are certain medicines and situations which can cause akinesia. Trauma/injury to the basal ganglia of the brain can also cause akinesia.

Medications or medical conditions, which cause symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease, including akinesia, are:

Causes of Akinesia

  • Shy-Drager syndrome is a rare condition which causes deterioration in the patient’s body and produces symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease including akinesia.
  • Medications, such as antipsychotics, which are given for schizophrenia and severe paranoia causes a person to have symptoms which resemble Parkinson’s disease including akinesia. Patient starts to experience these symptoms several weeks after starting to take antipsychotic medications.
  • Blood vessel syndromes, such as atherosclerosis and stroke, also can cause symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease including akinesia.
  • Street drugs, such as MPTP (synthetic heroin), causes severe Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms including akinesia.

Symptoms of Akinesia

Akinesia means “without movement.” This is a condition where a person experiences loss of or decrease in motor functions.

Patient can experience akinesia with various medical disorders; but most commonly with Parkinson’s disease. It also commonly occurs as a side effect to some medications and any trauma or injury to the brain, particularly the basal ganglia of the brain.

  • The commonest symptoms experienced in and along with akinesia is apathy where the patient is indifferent to everything and everybody and there is lack of interest to the surroundings.
  • In akinesia, there is also significant decrease in the patient’s movements, especially in spontaneous movements and reflexes.
  • In akinesia, the patient’s face also appears fixed and expressionless.
  • Patients suffering from akinesia rarely blinks his/her eyelids and the patient’s manner of speech is monotonous with absence of modulation.
  • The patient also gets easily tired when told to do repetitive movements. Additionally, patient also cannot perform normal tasks which require simultaneous and sequential actions.
  • In severe cases of akinesia, the patient can be completely immobile or disabled.

Treatment depends on the disease, which is causing akinesia and severity of the condition. Patients need to understand that akinesia is occurring as a result of some other diagnosed medical problem and is occurring as a complication or a side effect.

Akinetic Crisis

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease can also experience akinetic crisis where the patient experiences severe disability to move. This condition occurs when a patient undergoes prolonged therapy consisting of L-DOPA or levo-dihydroxyphenylalanine. This condition is alleviated by giving intravenous iron in the form of ferri-ferro-complex with the patients regaining significant ability for movement again.

The dosage administered decides the amount of akinetic crisis alleviated. The larger the dose, the more significant is the improvement; but it is important to first assess the patient’s condition and the severity of akinetic crisis before deciding on the dosage. After this, the iron administration should be tapered carefully and its withdrawal should be carefully managed and monitored. If there is improper withdrawal, then it can trigger the relapse of an akinetic crisis.

Treatment for Akinesia

  • Treatment varies and depends on the underlying medical condition causing akinesia and mostly is similar to treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
  • If a person is bedridden for several months then that individual can develop akinesia, especially in the lower extremities. In such cases, physical therapy is the main line of treatment to regain strength and use of the legs.
  • Patient needs to consult a doctor who specializes in such types of movement disorders.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 16, 2019

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