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Choreoathetosis is abnormal body movements characterized by a choreic and athetoid pattern (hence the name choreoathetosis). Choreic movements are involuntary, irregular, dance-like, movements of the arms, legs, and face. Athetoid movements are involuntary, slow, twisting movements of the hands, fingers, toes, and feet. People with choreoathetosis look like they are dancing or moving about like a snake. In choreoathetosis, the legs move forward in a slow and awkward manner because the involuntary movements and postures are happening at the same time the person is trying to walk.
Choreoathetosis is a common sign of Huntingtonís disease. Huntington's disease is a motor disorder that results in chorea and deterioration of mental functioning. Choreothetosis can occur in responses to some medications used to treat Parkinsonís disease. Parkinson's disease is a type of brain disorder that leads to serious difficulties with muscle movements. Choreoathetosis can also occur in phenylketonuria, which is a rare condition in which a baby is born without the ability to break down an amino acid called pheylalanine. Amino acids are a group of chemical substances that form proteins.
Choreothetosis can also occur in Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects how the body breaks down purines, which are organic substances that help make up the bodyís genetic blueprint. Choreoathetosis comes from the Greek word "choreia," meaning "to dance," the Greek word "athetos," meaning "unfixed," and the Greek word "osis," meaning "condition." Put all these words together and you have a "condition of dancing in an unfixed manner."