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What is Akinesia?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Akinesia is a medical term which describes a loss of motor function. The term literally means “without movement.” It is associated with a number of medical conditions, perhaps most notably Parkinson's disease, and it can also be caused by some medications and by injuries to the brain, especially the basal ganglia of the brain. Treatment options for this movement disorder vary, depending on what is causing the lack of movement. People who develop akinesia often know why the movement disorder is emerging because it is usually a complication of another condition, but they should still be evaluated by a doctor.

Progressive neurological conditions can lead to akinesia because the patient's brain becomes injured and the pathways used to direct movement are damaged. Many patients experience symptoms like tremors, slowed movement, and poor motor control before loss of motion develops. Akinesia can also be the result of nerve damage. Injuries to the brain, as for instance when a patient is injured in a car accident, cause akinesia for similar reasons.

Certain medications used to treat mental illnesses have been linked with movement disorders, including akinesia. When a patient develops akinesia as a side effect, alternative medications can be explored. If the patient's medication is switched, the patient may recover motor control. In some cases, however, alternatives may not be available, and the patient may have to decide between being unmedicated and taking the medication but experiencing impairments as a result.

Akinesia can also describe damage to an organ, such as the heart. Some patients develop a condition known as akinetic septum after surgery or as a result of heart disease, especially ischemic heart disease in which parts of the heart are deprived of oxygen and die. Medical imaging studies such as ultrasound can be used to determine that part of the heart is not moving. It is also possible to be born with congenital akinesia as a result of chromosomal variations or problems which occurred during fetal development.

People with chronic illnesses which require them to spend a lot of time in bed may develop akinesia as a result of inactivity. They can also develop conditions such as flexed joints. Gentle physical therapy can be used to provide supportive care to such patients so that they are less likely to develop these complications. This can include stretching poses which the caregiver pulls the patient into in order to stretch the muscles and gently work the joints.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By manykitties2 — On Jul 11, 2011

My mother has been developing akinesia from the amount of time she has spent between being bedridden and in a wheelchair. She has been suffering some of the more debilitating effects of diabetes for the last year or so, and we worry that her condition will only continue to get worse as her diabetes does.

Do you think that a physical therapist would help with someone who is suffering from post-surgery traumas and difficult to heal lesions?

I would really love to do more for my mother but it seems like an impossible situation. I feel that the more her movement abilities deteriorate the less likely she will be to ever recover.

By discographer — On Jul 11, 2011

@fify-- I've learned all about these terms because my dad is suffering from alzheimers. These are all various movement problems linked to alzheimers and some other health problems this article mentioned.

A good way to remember what they are is to keep in mind that kinesia means movement (think of kinetic). From there, you can tell what it's talking about from the prefix. Akinesia is lack of movement as you know.

Dyskinesia means movement disorder and akinesia is also included in this category. Hyperkinesia means involuntary and unwanted movement and hypokinesia means no movement.

My dad has both akinesia and bradykinesia- which means slow movement.

By wander — On Jul 11, 2011

In my opinion akinesia is one of the worst symptoms of Parkinson's disease. My aunt has had Parkinson's disease for quite awhile now and seeing her movement levels decrease and her ability to control her movements wither away has been very traumatic for her and the family.

I think one of the best things you can do for a family member with akinesia is get a good physical therapist recommended by the doctor you normally deal with. While people with Parkinson's disease suffer from movement loss, that doesn't mean that the muscles don't need a workout. Keeping your loved on in shape is very important for their health.

By fify — On Jul 10, 2011

When I was reading about akinesia, I saw some terms that are similar like dyskinesia, hyperkinesia, hypokinesia and bradykinesia.

What do these mean? How are they related to akinesia?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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