Your Health

Apraxia

Definition

Apraxia happens when you are unable to do learned movements or signals. You may have the desire and the physical ability to do the movements, but you cannot. There are many types of apraxia.

Causes

Apraxia is caused by diseases or damage in the brain, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Brain injury
  • Infection
  • Brain disease, such as:
    • Alzheimer disease
    • Frontotemporal dementia—a syndrome associated with shrinking of the frontal and temporal anterior portions of the brain
    • Huntington disease
    • Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration (CBD)
Stroke
si1213 97870 1 Ischemic Stroke.jpg
Stroke can cause brain damage, which can lead to apraxia.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Apraxia may be due to stroke. Stroke is more common in older adults.

Factors that may increase your risk of stroke include:

Symptoms

Some common forms of apraxia and their symptoms include:

  • Buccofacial or orofacial apraxia—inability to make facial movements, such as winking, whistling, or sticking out the tongue
  • Apraxia of speech—difficulty performing the movements needed to make speech
  • Constructional apraxia—inability to copy or draw simple figures or to make two- or three-dimensional forms
  • Gait apraxia—difficulty walking, which can lead to an increased risk of falls
  • Conceptual apraxia—inability to select or use tools or objects properly, to make complex movements at the same time, and to do tasks in order
  • Limb-kinetic apraxia—inability to make fine, exact movements with hands or fingers such as handling coins
  • Ideomotor apraxia—inability to copy movements or make signals, or to do a function on command
  • Dressing apraxia—inability to dress oneself

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

A neurological exam may be done. You may be asked to:

  • Copy posture, movement, and sequences
  • Draw shapes
  • Put together designs
  • Pick up or rotate coins
  • Select a tool, such as a hammer, and demonstrate how to use it
  • Arrange movements in sequence

Images may be taken of your brain. This can be done with:

Other tests may include:

  • An exam of the muscles used in speech
  • A speech assessment
  • Evaluation of walking skills

If you are diagnosed with apraxia, you could also have aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder.

Treatment

Your treatment depends on what kind of apraxia you have. Families should ask about individualized treatment programs such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Cognitive rehabilitation

It is also important to treat the cause of the apraxia.

Prevention

It may be difficult to prevent this condition. It is strongly linked to stroke. Following steps to prevent stroke may help. Some of these steps include:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • Check your blood pressure often.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2014 -
  • Update Date: 05/07/2014 -
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

    http://www.asha.org

  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

    http://www.ninds.nih.gov

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

    http://www.heartandstroke.com

  • Apraxia of speech in adults. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ApraxiaAdults.htm. Accessed December 1, 2014.

  • Childhood apraxia of speech. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ChildhoodApraxia.htm. Accessed December 1, 2014.

  • Curioni C, André C, Veras R. Weight reduction for primary prevention of stroke in adults with overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [serial online]. 2006;4. Available at: http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab006062.html. Accessed December 1, 2014.

  • Lukas RV. Two automobile collisions in one day. J Emerg Med. 2012;43(4):e263-264.

  • NINDS apraxia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/apraxia/apraxia.htm. Updated February 14, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.

  • NINDS frontotemporal dementia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/picks/picks.htm. Updated July 18, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.