Pediatric Chorea

Pediatric chorea is a movement disorder that causes uncontrolled wiggling, flowing muscle movements or large muscle movements that can make patients look like they’re flinging their limbs.

What is Pediatric Chorea?

Chorea causes a specific type of abnormal, involuntary muscle actions. These can be small or large movements. The movements are often described as “dance-like,” as they appear to flow across the body from one muscle group to the next. They typically do not follow a repetitive pattern, and the movements can take place on only one side of the body (hemichorea). A child’s facial movements, posture, speech, swallowing and walking may also be affected.

Chorea is part of a larger group of neurological conditions that impact the nervous system called movement disorders. Similar conditions include:

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Chorea?

Symptoms of chorea are uncontrolled movements that can take place anywhere on the body. The location will depend on the amount of damage to the nervous system.

Symptoms also include:

  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Inability to be still (restlessness)
  • Low muscle tone (also known as hypotonia)
  • Uncontrolled, continuous movement

How is Pediatric Chorea diagnosed?

Diagnosing pediatric chorea depends on the cause of the disorder. Doctors will often use the following tests to diagnose pediatric chorea:

  • Blood tests
  • Genetic tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (an imaging test that produces a detailed, 3-D image of the body using a magnetic field)

What are the causes of Pediatric Chorea?

Chorea can occur at any age and be due to several possible triggers, which include:

  • Birth injuries
  • Brain tumors
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Exposure to toxins (such as carbon monoxide, manganese or pesticides)
  • Head/brain trauma
  • Hemorrhages or strokes
  • Hyper or hypothyroidism (hormone imbalance)
  • Infections like chickenpox, Lyme disease, HIV-related immune deficiencies and bacterial endocarditis (heart infection)
  • Inherited conditions, including Huntington’s (progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain) or Wilson’s disease (causes too much copper to build up in the organs)
  • Kidney failure
  • Metabolic disorders, including low blood sugar, calcium, magnesium or sodium levels, and vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Reaction to medicines including anticonvulsants (for seizures), antihistamines (for allergies), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medicines and psychiatric/mood disorder medicines
  • Rheumatic fever (result of strep throat or scarlet fever)

How is Pediatric Chorea treated?

For some patients, treating the underlying condition that caused chorea can treat the movement disorder. For others, medications can be used to control symptoms.

For a small group of patients, doctors may recommend deep brain stimulation (DBS). With DBS therapy, surgeons implant a small device under the skin in the chest called a neurostimulator. It sends impulses to sensors placed in the parts of the brain responsible for involuntary movements to help control them.

Pediatric Chorea Doctors and Providers