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What Can Cause a Loss of Motor Skills?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Among the most common causes of the loss of motor skills are traumatic injuries to the brain and strokes, which can both result in temporary or permanent impairment. A person may also suffer motor skill loss because of a disorder or disease that affects nerve cells in his brain. Parkinson's disease is an example of such a disorder. Likewise, alcoholic beverages and drugs that depress the central nervous system can affect a person's motor skills temporarily.

One of the possible causes of impaired motor skills is a head injury. When a person sustains a severe head injury, the loss can prove severe or mild, and permanent or temporary depending on the part of the brain that is injured and the extent of the injury. Motor skill issues may occur when a person suffers a hard blow to his head or when something penetrates his skull. They may even develop when a person suffers an accident that causes his brain to strike the inside of his skull.

A stroke is also among the health problems that can cause a loss of motor skills. When a person has a stroke, an artery becomes blocked or a blood vessel breaks and interferes with blood flow to the brain. The part of the brain that experiences the blood flow problem can suffer damage, and brain cells in the area may even die. The effects of a stroke can vary, but some people suffer such issues as changes in speech, paralysis of part of the body, and impaired memory. Some people also suffer motor skills problems because of a stroke.

Disorders that affect nerve cells of the brain, such as Parkinson's disease, can also cause motor skill loss. When a person has Parkinson's disease, nerve cells that produce the brain chemical dopamine fail to perform as they should. This chemical has the responsibility of producing signals that play an important role in movement. Without this chemical's effects, a person may suffer the loss of motor skills as well as a range of other problems. For example, he could also suffer from tremors of his extremities and face, and he may even have difficulties with sleeping, eating, and talking.

Sometimes the loss of motor skills is caused by a substance rather than an illness or injury. An individual, for example, may experience the temporary loss of motor skills after drinking too much alcohol and becoming drunk. The impairment usually only lasts until the affected person becomes sober again. This is probably due to the fact that alcohol depresses that central nervous system. Some drugs may have similar effects.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1003212 — On May 21, 2020

No stroke. According to a specialist, I have colon cancer. I quit drinking in 1986. I was falling a lot and had "dropsies". I had trouble doing everyday stuff. I had surgery in 2019.

By pastanaga — On Sep 21, 2014

@Ana1234 - Unfortunately, that's why there have been cases where someone has been having a stroke or has had something else wrong with them and police have assumed that they were drunk. i don't think it's wrong to try and identify drunk drivers by this method, but it should only ever be the first step, as a loss of motor skills could be indicating any number of conditions.

By Ana1234 — On Sep 20, 2014

@Fa5t3r - It's one of the reasons why people talk about how smoking pot and then driving isn't as bad as drinking and then driving, although it's only one side of the story. Frankly I wouldn't want people who had done either behind the wheel.

But there is a reason that cops will test someone's sobriety by getting them to walk along a line or try to touch their nose. If it was just about concentration, they would be able to do a simple task like that, because it only takes a couple of moments of brain power and they can muster that.

But alcohol really does a number on your ability to do even simple tasks and it's pretty obvious once it gets to a certain point, no matter how much you might try to hide it.

By Fa5t3r — On Sep 19, 2014

I'd never really thought of drinking as a way to make someone lose their motor skills. I mean, I know that people can stumble around and stop being able to perform simple tasks when they are drunk, but I thought that was more because they can't concentrate, than because they actually become physically impaired.

I guess that's yet another reason why people who talk about how they are all right behind the wheel of a car when they've had a few drinks are just fooling themselves.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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