Treatment of task-specific dystonia in sports: A systematic review

B. Nijenhuis*, E. van Wensen, M. Smit, T. van Zutphen, J. Zwerver, M. A.J. Tijssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Introduction: Task specific dystonia is a movement disorder only affecting a highly practiced skill and is found in a broad set of expert movements including in sports. Despite affecting many sports, there is no comprehensive review of treatment options, which is in contrast to better studied forms of task specific dystonia in musicians and writers. For this reason, studies involving an intervention to treat task specific dystonia in sports were systematically reviewed, with special attention for the quality of outcome measures.

Methods: The PICO systematic search strategy was employed on task-specific dystonia, and all synonyms. Inclusion criteria were peer reviewed published studies pertaining to sports, studies with a measurement and/or intervention in TSD, all in English. We excluded abstracts, expert opinions, narrative review articles, unpublished studies, dissertations and studies exclusively relating to choking. We included case reports, case studies and case-control studies.

Results: In April 2022 Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science, and Psychinfo were searched. Of the 7000 articles identified, 31 were included that described psychological and invasive and/or pharmacological interventions. There was a lack of formal standardized outcome measures in studies resulting in low quality evidence for the effectiveness of treatment options. A descriptive synthesis showed emotional regulation was effective, but was exclusively tried in golfers. Interventions like botulinum toxin or pharmacology had a similar effectiveness compared to studies in musicians dystonia, however there was almost no formal evidence for these treatments.

Conclusion: The quality of studies was low with a lack of standardized outcome measures. Future studies with larger cohorts and quantitative outcome measures are needed to improve understanding of treatments for task specific dystonia in athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100245
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Parkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2024


  • Intervention
  • Sports
  • Task Specific Dystonia
  • Treatment


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