Apraxia: Symptoms & Causes

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Imagine one day waking up and being unable to perform the simple task of bathing. That's what people with apraxia may experience. Find out what other things they may experience and what can lead to apraxia.

What is Apraxia?

One day, you wake up, get dressed, and then walk to work. As you're walking, someone you know waves at you. Yet you don't wave back. Then another person waves at you. Yet you don't wave back even though you consciously realize imitating someone's wave is important in a social setting. What's going on? Are you simply being rude? Or is your inability to imitate another person's gesture something worse?

It could be that you have apraxia, a neurological condition where a person cannot perform an activity that they are able and willing to do.

Signs of Apraxia

Apraxia has many different subtypes; depending on the subtype of the apraxia, the signs and symptoms of it will vary. Some people will be unable to make precise movements with their arms or legs. For example, they won't be able to properly cut a loaf of bread.

Other people with apraxia won't be able to properly respond to commands. If someone asks them to lick their lips, they won't be able to. Or, if someone asks them to wave, they will be unable to do so either.

Some people will be unable to draw or build even really simple things. They may not be able to move their eyes properly or will have difficulty speaking. Sometimes, the person will be unable to perform an activity they have been able to perform countless time. These tasks are usually multi-step in nature, such as mailing something, bathing, making coffee, and so on.

Causes of Apraxia

The underlying problem in apraxia is damage to the cerebrum, the main portion of the brain. The causes of this damage can be as varied and numerous as the signs of apraxia. Some people are born with apraxia. Others may not be but may have a traumatic event, like a car accident, fall, or sports accident that results in serious head trauma.

Stroke can also lead to apraxia. Stroke is a condition where brain cells die as a result of oxygen depletion. Stroke is the end result that leads to cerebral damage, but plenty of risk factors that lead to stroke are thus, in effect, potential cause of apraxia as well. These risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, and diabetes.

Finally, brain tumors can lead to apraxia. These brain tumors can grow in the brain or on top of the brain. They may form directly in the skull itself or they may spread to the brain from another part of the body such as the lungs or liver.

Lesson Summary

Apraxia is a neurological condition where a person cannot perform a task even though they know how to, are willing, and are able to do it. it stems from a damage to the main part of our brain, the cerebrum. Apraxia can result in:

  • Difficulties in making precise movements
  • Problems with speech
  • An inability to follow through on commands
  • Problems making or drawing simple shapes

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