Background: Task-specific dystonia is a movement disorder of the central nervous system characterized by focal involuntary spasms and muscle contractions, which can negatively affect performance of a specific task. It can affect a wide range of fine motor skills, also in athletes. Current management of task-specific dystonia includes mainly prescribing drugs, exercise therapy or botulinum injections to the affected muscles. Psychological interventions for athletes suffering from task-specific dystonia have not been described extensively so far.
Methods: We present a case-series of 4 different advanced skill-level athletes with suspected task-specific dystonia, which had a major impact on their performance. They all received treatment consisting of a combination of standardized behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques in the form of hypnosis in a total of 8 sessions in a 16-week time period.
Results: After treatment, all athletes returned to their original high level of sport performance without further symptoms of their suspected task-specific dystonia.
Discussion: Behavioural therapy in combination with a relaxation technique seems to be a safe and promising treatment for athletes with suspected task-specific dystonia. Further studies in a larger, preferably randomized controlled trial, are warranted to evaluate if this treatment strategy is effective in athletes with suspected task-specific dystonia.
- behavioural therapy
- runner’s dystonia
- Task-specific dystonia