Acute Onset of Movement Disorders Accompanying Common Emergency Room Neurologic Disease Processes


South Atlantic


Orange Park Medical Center

Document Type

Case Report

Publication Date



aphasia, neoplasm, thrombectomy, athetosis, chorea, hemiballismus, dyskinesia, stroke


Emergency Medicine | Neoplasms | Nervous System Diseases


Emergency departments (EDs) of hospitals accredited for trauma and/or comprehensive stroke care treat a large volume of high-acuity patients. In this fast-paced environment, the primary focus is appropriate triage, rapid stabilization, diagnosis, and acute intervention for life-threatening conditions such as cerebral vascular accident (CVA). However, this approach may result in subtle or atypical neurologic signs and symptoms being overlooked. Often, these oversights are innocuous in terms of their influence on overall patient outcomes. They are, in the vernacular, “of academic interest only”. These cases provide ED clinicians with a unique opportunity to witness signs and symptoms not classically associated with common neurologic maladies. These unusual manifestations may be fleeting as they often either resolve with intervention or are overshadowed by progressive clinical decline. If such findings are recognized, they can at a minimum provide fascinating insights into neuroanatomic function. At a maximum, early recognition can influence immediate treatments and long-term outcomes.

We report three ED patient presentations that shed light on functional neuroanatomical pathways and, in one case, significantly affected a patient’s immediate algorithmic care. Two such cases involved acute middle cerebral artery distribution ischemic strokes, which typically present with focal contralateral sensorimotor and potential language deficits. Such events less commonly initially present with involuntary motor movements (dyskinesias). Failure to recognize these less common ictal signs may delay appropriate ED intervention or yield etiologic misdiagnoses. A third case involved a loss of consciousness ictal event secondary to a frontotemporal lobe tumor. This case presented with aphasic stroke-like symptoms along with new acute orofacial dyskinesias.

Imaging before and after medical, surgical, and endovascular intervention provided important clinico-anatomic lessons. Furthermore, proposed neurophysiologic mechanisms and review of pertinent literature are provided.

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