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Brain Dev. 2002 Jan;24(1):33-8.

Rhythmic movement disorder: polysomnographic study and summary of reported cases.

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  • 1Human Ontogeny and Childhood Development, Graduate School, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1-5-45 Yushima, Tokyo 113-8519, Japan. jkohyama.ped@tmd.ac.jp


Rhythmic movement disorder (RMD) is classified as a sleep-wake transition disorder. However, some RMD patients show rhythmic movements during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, during which muscle activity is completely absent. In order to determine the sleep stages in which episodes of RMD occur, we investigated two children with RMD by means of polysomnography, and also summarized the polysomnographic reports on patients with RMD. We also quantified the REM sleep atonia in our patients using the tonic and phasic inhibition indices (TII and PII). In addition, to examine the involvement of the basal ganglia in RMD patients, we studied the frequency of gross movements (GMs) during sleep in each sleep stage. Both patients showed rhythmic movements in all sleep stages, i.e. including REM sleep. Few rhythmic movements occurred during sleep-wake transition periods. Both patients showed normal TII and PII scores as well as a normal pattern for the sleep stage-dependent modulation of GMs during sleep. Eighteen of the 33 reported RMD patients, including ours, experienced episodes during REM sleep, while the other 15 patients had no episodes during REM sleep. Among the 18 patients who had episodes during REM sleep, eight experienced the episodes exclusively during REM sleep. It is unlikely that the neuronal mechanisms that underlie RMD episodes were the same in the 15 patients who had no RMD episodes during REM sleep and the eight who had them only during REM sleep. We propose that RMD can be divided into several subgroups according to the differences in the underlying neuronal mechanisms.

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