Definition of Stereotypic movement disorder
Stereotypic movement disorder is a condition in which a person makes repetitive, purposeless movements (such as hand waving, body rocking, or head banging) for at least four weeks. The movements interfere with normal activity or have the potential to cause bodily harm.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Stereotypic movement disorder is more common among boys than girls. The repetitive movements appear to increase with stress, frustration, and boredom.
Signs and tests
A doctor can usually diagnose this condition with a physical exam. Tests should be done to rule out other potential causes of such behaviors, including Tourette syndrome or other tic disorder, stimulant abuse, chorea, and autism.
Treatment should focus on the cause, specific symptoms, and patient’s age.
The outlook depends on the cause. Stereotypic movements due to drugs usually goes away on its own after a few hours. Long-term abuse of stimulants, however, may lead to longer periods of stereotypic movement behavior. The movements usually go away once the drug or drugs are stopped.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/14/2010