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Dystonia / Blepharospasm
 
Dystonia - The dystonias are movement disorders in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The movements, which are involuntary and sometimes painful, may affect a single muscle; a group of muscles such as those in the arms, legs, or neck; or the entire body. Those with dystonia usually have normal intelligence and no associated psychiatric disorders. 

Blepharospasm - Blepharospasm, the second most common focal dystonia, is the involuntary, forcible closure of the eyelids. The first symptoms may be uncontrollable blinking. Only one eye may be affected initially, but eventually both eyes are usually involved. The spasms may leave the eyelids completely closed causing functional blindness even though the eyes and vision are normal. 

Botulinum Toxin - Minute amounts of this familiar toxin can be injected into affected muscles to provide temporary relief of focal dystonias. First used to treat blepharospasm, such injections have gained wider acceptance among physicians for treating other focal dystonias. The toxin stops muscle spasms by blocking release of the excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The effect lasts for up to several months before the injections have to be repeated. 
 

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
 
Reference Links

Dystonia / Blepharospasm Research and Information Sources:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) - Dystonias Fact Sheet
Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF)
Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation
WE MOVE - Worldwide Education and Awareness for Movement Disorders
Care4Dystonia, Inc.
Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation (BEBRF)

Informational Articles:

Facial Dystonia, Essential Blepharospasm and Hemifacial Spasm - American Family Physician
Movement Disorders Discussed at Washington Meeting (Blepharospasm) - Fox News - 9/15/06
Dystonia - Wikipedia

Botox Development and the Orphan Drug Act:

The Orphan Drug Act - U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Orphan Products: New Hope for People with Rare Disorders - FDA Consumer Special Report
Movers and Shakers: Mr. Greg Brooks, Vice President of Global Botox®, Allergan, Inc.
Frozen in Time: Botox Over the Years - MSNBC - 10/22/07
It's Not About the Wrinkles - University of Wisconsin Madison Science Report 2006-2007
Botulinum Toxin's Promise as Drug May Rival Its Potential as Weapon - New York Times - 3/10/98
Loss of Drug Relegates Many to Blindness Again - New York Times - 10/14/86

Film/Video:

"Twisted" (a must-see documentary) - Blind Dog Films
Benign Essential Blepharospasm (brief illustrational video) - MedRounds Publications
Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Awareness Video - DMRF
 


 
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