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Abnormal posturing refers to rigid body movements and chronic abnormal positions of the body. This symptom is not the same as showing poor posture or slumping over. Rather, it is often the result of a serious spinal cord or brain injury.
Abnormal posturing results when one muscle contracts and the other muscle fails to offer resistance. This causes atypical movement, such as stiff or arched feet, hands, head, or back.
There are three main types of postures shown among individuals with abnormal posturing.
Opisthotonos is a posture in which the neck is tilted back and the back is stiff and arched.
Decorticate posture is characterized by a stiff body, straight legs, bent arms held toward the chest, and clenched fists.
Decerebrate posture is characterized by stiff, straight limbs, pointed toes, and a backward tilt to the head and neck.
Depending on the cause, you may change postures with stimulation or over the course of the condition.
If you notice abnormal posturing, seek medical assistance right away. This symptom is often a sign of a very serious medical condition. Individuals with this symptom may be unconscious, so others need to seek help on their behalf.
Abnormal posturing most often results from damage to the brain or spinal cord. The area of the brain or spinal cord affected will dictate the type of posturing you experience.
Other common causes of abnormal posturing, including brain injury or trauma, are listed below.
There are many possible underlying causes of abnormal posturing. Many of these are very serious. It is crucial to seek medical assistance right away. Failure to seek medical attention could result in brain damage and even death.
There are no at-home treatments for abnormal posturing. A physician in a hospital setting should treat all types of this condition. Treatment is usually immediate and considered an emergency.
The first step of emergency treatment typically involves inserting a breathing tube to assist in breathing, as muscles spasms, brain trauma, posturing, and other underlying causes may restrict breathing. Once you are stabilized, your doctor can determine what is causing the posturing.
Your physician may ask relatives questions to determine your medical history. Questions may include inquiries about the duration of symptoms, type of posture, injury, or trauma, and any other symptoms observed.
The medical provider will likely conduct a complete physical exam. Determining the cause of abnormal posturing can take time and numerous tests. Common tests include:
Treatment usually involves a stay in the intensive care unit until the cause of abnormal posturing is determined and stabilized.
Abnormal posturing is a symptom of an injury, disease, or illness. Ignoring symptoms may cause the underlying condition to worsen. Prevention lies in getting timely treatment.
Other preventative techniques include:
Written by: Suzanne Allen
Published on: Jul 09, 2012on: Mar 08, 2016
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