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Sleep myoclonus
occurs during the initial phases of sleep, especially at the moment of dropping off to sleep.
Stimulus-sensitive myoclonus
It is triggered by a variety of external events, including noise, movement, and light. Surprise may increase the sensitivity of the patient.
Reticular reflex myoclonus
is thought to be a type of generalized epilepsy that originates in the brainstem. Myoclonic jerks usually affect the whole body. It can be triggered by either a voluntary movement or an external stimulus.
Progressive myoclonus epilepsy
It is a group of diseases characterized by myoclonus, epileptic seizures, and other serious symptoms such as trouble walking or speaking.
Types of Myoclonus
Palatal myoclonus
It is a regular, rhythmic contraction of one or both sides of the rear of the roof of the mouth, called the soft palate. These contractions may be accompanied by myoclonus in other muscles. The contractions are very rapid, and may persist during sleep.
Essential myoclonus
occurs in the absence of epilepsy or other apparent abnormalities in the brain or nerves. It can occur randomly in people with no family history, but it also can appear among members of the same family.
Cortical reflex myoclonus
It is thought to be a type of epilepsy that originates in the cerebral cortex.
jerks usually involve only a few muscles in one part of the body, but jerks involving many muscles also may occur. Cortical reflex myoclonus can be intensified when patients attempt to move in a certain way or perceive a particular sensation.
Action myoclonus
muscular jerking triggered or intensified by voluntary movement or even the intention to move. It can affect the arms, legs, face, and even the voice. This type of myoclonus often is caused by brain damage.
Myoclonus describes a symptom and generally is not a diagnosis of a disease. It refers to sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles. Myoclonic twitches or jerks usually are caused by sudden muscle contractions, called positive myoclonus, or by muscle relaxation, called negative myoclonus.
System degenerations
often is accompanied by action myoclonus, seizures, and problems with balance and walking.
Cerebral storage diseases
usually involves myoclonus, visual problems, dementia, and dystonia.
Lafora body disease
occurs only when a child inherits two copies of a defective gene, one from each parent. It is characterized by myoclonus, epileptic seizures, and dementia.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.