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Rhythmic Movement Disorders

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Rhythmic Movement Disorders (RMD) is a neurological disorder that can result in groups of muscles in the body experiencing involuntary and repetitive movements. This usually happens in the head and neck areas when a person is falling asleep and can continue during the entire night. This condition is often noticed first in a child’s early development stages and can be seen most commonly in children who have a mental handicap. For adults, RMD will commonly appear after a traumatic event.

While Rhythmic Movement Disorders can vary by person, some of the most common side effects include:

  • Rocking of the body
  • Banging the head forcefully in back and forth movements
  • Rolling the head repeatedly

In some cases, other less common muscle movements may be experienced:

  • Leg rolling – the leg is moved from side to side.
  • Banging of the legs – thrashing of the legs up in the air and slamming down on the bed.
  • Full body rolling

If you or somebody else is having any of these symptoms, you will want to keep track and provide a physician with a detailed account of how often these symptoms are being experienced. This will help further in the course of treatment.

Rhythmic Movement DisordersCAUSES:
At this time, the cause of Rhythmic Movement Disorders is not understood. While things like stress, trauma to the head and certain diseases can be a direct link, some hereditary conditions do exist as well. Additionally, some professionals believe that an undeveloped vestibular may be the source of this problem. Presently, additional research is needed to help pinpoint the exact causes.

Usually, no treatment will be needed for this disorder. However, if you find that the episodes get worse, a doctor can prescribe benzodiazepines to help relieve the symptoms. Additionally, treatment options for sleep apnea have also shown some promise when treating Rhythmic Movement Disorders and should be considered as a potential solution for this condition.

  • Reducing your level of stress as well as adjusting your sleeping environment can be beneficial.
  • If you need background noise to sleep, turn off the television and choose music that is soft and soothing or use a white noise machine that provides environmental sounds, like the ocean or a babbling brook. This will help you to relax more effectively.
  • Maintain a good sleeping schedule.
  • Avoid bright colors and scenery in the bedroom. Rooms that are free from busy patterns and intense colors can aid in relaxation.
  • Do not consume alcohol or caffeine in the hours before your bedtime. Fluids should also be avoided within the hour before you plan on going to bed for the night.
  • Infants and adolescents may be given low doses of clonazepam if necessary.

Make sure you do everything possible to create a comfortable environment and discuss the condition with a doctor. By taking a proactive approach,  there is little doubt that you can reduce the occurrence of Rhythmic Movement Disorders and encourage a better night sleep.

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