Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that might affect children with tumors. The following HealthHearty write-up provides information on this condition.
The term ‘myoclonus’ refers to involuntary muscle twitching and jerks. Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS) is a rare neurological disorder that was first studied and described by Marcel Kinsbourne in 1962. OMS is known by other names such as:
- Dancing Eyes-Dancing Feet syndrome
- Kinsbourne syndrome
- Myoclonic Encephalopathy of Infants
- Opsoclonus-Myoclonus-Ataxia (OMA)
- Paraneoplastic Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Ataxia (POMA)
The term opsoclonus refers to involuntary movement of the eyeballs (nystagmus) and myoclonus refers to spasms of a muscle or muscle group. The exact cause of OMS remains unknown. It is believed that this could be an autoimmune disorder, wherein the antibodies respond to a virus or tumor called neuroblastoma. While doing so, they begin to attack the brain cells as well. This damages the brain neurons, thereby leading to OMS.
It is believed that OMS might occur in children affected by a neuroblastoma or ganglioneuroblastoma. It is believed that this disorder might be caused by encephalitis or a viral infection caused by Epstein-Barr virus or Coxsackie virus. These infections can trigger autoimmune diseases in both children and adults, which may lead to OMS.
OMS in Children
This condition is more commonly seen in infants and children. Around 2% to 3% of the toddlers with neuroblastoma might develop this syndrome. The symptoms in children include:
- Rapid, involuntary, horizontal and vertical, conjugate eye movements at regular intervals
- Involuntary muscle twitching involving one or group of muscles
- Truncal and appendicular cerebellar ataxia
- Inability to speak or mutism
- Strabismus (condition where the eyes are not aligned)
- Sleep disturbances
Affected children suffer from involuntary jerks, due to which the muscles appear to be dancing. This is the reason why this condition is also called dancing eyes and dancing feet. The child becomes nervous, irritable, and lethargic due to this disorder. The condition worsens when the child is agitated. Opsoclonus causes the eyes to move in any direction rapidly, whether they are open or closed. The rapid eye movement causes the affected person to have vision problems. Affected children might find it difficult to sit and stand.
There are several medications that might help in alleviating the symptoms. Medications that are recommended for treating opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome include corticosteroids like prednisone, intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg), immunosuppressive drugs like cyclophosphamide, etc. In some cases, chemotherapy is required to treat neuroblastoma.
The prognosis for OMS is good in case of those who suffer from the mildest symptoms. In severe cases, the affected person experiences symptoms such as loss of coordination, brain injury, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. Children may suffer from permanent brain damage leading to mental, as well as physical disabilities. The condition has long-lasting effects in children.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.