Though rare, victims of lightning strike may suffer

DENVER, CO As if being struck by lightning wasnt hard enough on a person, in rare cases, ongoing complications of the nervous system result in involuntary movement disorders. Among lightning-strike victims, researchers have discovered involuntary movement symptoms including uncontrollable blinking and forcible closure of eyelids, tic-like movements resembling Tourettes syndrome, guttural vocalizations, hand tremors, and spasms of major muscle groups.

Through a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers from the Lightning Data Center of St. Anthony Hospital, Denver, are raising awareness of this uncommon, but debilitating neurological complication among lightning-strike patients. Involuntary movement disorders IMDs -- are more commonly found in patients whove experienced a generated electrical trauma, such as contact with a live ungrounded wire, commented study author Michael Cherington, MD, Yet we have found four patients who had these symptoms after being struck by lightning.

The explanations for IMD after lightning strikes vary from a direct causal relationship to a precipitating factor, or IMD symptoms may even be coincidental to the lightning strike event. Further study will help elucidate the role of lightning strike in IMD, and also identify potential treatment options.


Contact: Cheryl Alementi
American Academy of Neurology

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