Commenced in January 2007
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functional movement disorder Related Abstracts

1 Living with Functional Movement Disorder: An Exploratory Study of the Lived Experience of Five Individuals with Functional Movement Disorder

Authors: Stephanie Zuba-Bates


Purpose: This qualitative research study explored the lived experience of people with functional movement disorder (FMD) including how it impacts their quality of life and participation in life activities. It aims to educate health care professionals about FMD from the perspective of those living with the disorder. Background: Functional movement disorder is characterized by abnormal motor movements including tremors, abnormal gait, paresis, and dystonia with no known underlying pathophysiological cause. Current research estimates that FMD may account for 2-20% of clients seen by neurologists. Getting a diagnosis of FMD is typically long and difficult. In addition, many healthcare professionals are unfamiliar with the disorder which may delay treatment. People living with FMD face great disruption in major areas of life including activities of daily living (ADLs), work, leisure, and community participation. OT practitioners have expertise in working with people with both physical disabilities as well as mental illness and this expertise has the potential to guide treatment and become part of the standard of care. In order for occupational therapists to provide these services, they must be aware of the disorder and must advocate for clients to be referred to OT services. In addition, referring physicians and other health professionals need to understand how having FMD impacts the daily functioning of people living with the disorder and how OT services can intervene to improve their quality of life. This study aimed to answer the following research questions: 1) What is the lived experience of individuals with FMD?; 2) How has FMD impacted their participation in major areas of life?; and, 3) What treatment have they found to be effective in improving their quality of life? Method: A naturalistic approach was used to collect qualitative data through semi-structured telephone interviews of five individuals living with FMD. Subjects were recruited from social media websites and resources for people with FMD. Data was analyzed for common themes among participants. Results: Common themes including the variability of symptoms of the disorder; challenges to receiving a diagnosis; frustrations with and distrust of health care professionals; the impact of FMD on the participant’s ability to perform daily activities; and, strategies for living with the symptoms of FMD. Conclusion: All of the participants in the study had to modify their daily activities, roles and routines as a result of the disorder. This is an area where occupational therapists may intervene to improve the quality of life of these individuals. Additionally, participants reported frustration with the medical community regarding the awareness of the disorder and how they were treated by medical professionals. Much more research and awareness of the disorder is in order.

Keywords: Occupational therapy, Quality of Life, Participation, functional movement disorder

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