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16-08-2011 | Psychology | Article

Movement abnormalities linked to social functioning in youth at high risk for psychosis


Free abstract

MedWire News: Movement abnormalities are significantly associated with psychosocial functioning deficits in adolescents at high risk for psychosis, research shows.

The period preceding the development of full-blown psychosis is characterized by attenuated psychosis symptoms, movement abnormalities, and a decline in social functioning, explain Vijay Mittal (University of Colorado at Boulder, USA) and team.

However, they add that little is known about the relationship between abnormal movement function and psychosocial deficits in patients at high risk for psychosis, they add.

To investigate, the team studied 40 adolescents, aged an average of 16 years, at high risk for psychosis due to the presence of a prodromal syndrome.

Movement abnormalities were assessed at baseline using videotapes of the participants at their initial clinical interview, and the Global Functioning Scale was used to assess role and social functioning at baseline and at 1-year follow up.

The researchers found that spontaneous dyskinesias were common among the participants at baseline and included tics (2.5%), grimaces (10.0%), ocular/blinking (27.5%), chewing/lip smacking (22.5%), puckering/thrusting lower lip (35.0%), tongue thrusting (37.5%), lateral tongue (5.0%), retrocollis/torticollis (7.5%), shoulder/hip torsion (25.0%), athetoid/myokymic finger-wrist-arm (10.0%), and pill-rolling (25.0%).

At baseline, increased severity of dyskinetic movements was associated with reduced role functioning, but not with social functioning.

However, after accounting for baseline functioning, movement abnormalities at baseline significantly predicted reduced social functioning after 1 year, with a trend toward reduced role functioning.

In total, 13 patients (32.5%) converted to full-blown psychosis during the study period, and exploratory analyses indicated that these patients had higher levels of movement abnormalities at baseline than those who did not convert.

"Taken together, the results suggest that movement abnormalities are closely associated with deficits in psychosocial functioning," conclude Mittal and team in the journal Schizophrenia Research.

They add: "These findings highlight the need to further understand etiologically factors underlying psychosocial functioning, which may be an important target for intervention, particularly during a developmental period when social and role functioning behaviors are becoming increasingly central to ones' identity."

By Mark Cowen

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