Journal: Der Nervenarzt
Spinocerebellar ataxias are genetically heterogeneous autosomal dominant ataxia disorders. To date more than 30 different subtypes are known. In Germany particularly SCA1, SCA2, SCA3 and SCA6 are prevalent, as well as the less frequent subtypes SCA5, SCA14, SCA15, SCA17 and SCA28. Genetic causes range from coding repeat expansions (polyglutamine diseases), to non-coding expansions as well as conventional mutations. In some subtypes the genetic background is currently unknown. Age of onset, typical clinical findings and geographic distribution may help to reach a correct diagnosis; however a definitive diagnosis requires molecular genetic testing.
Psychosocial interventions improve cognitive abilities (cognitive stimulation, cognitive training), enhance emotional well-being (activity planning, reminiscence), reduce behavioral symptoms (aromatherapy, music therapy) and promote everyday functioning (occupational therapy). Through these effects they reinforce and augment pharmacological treatments for dementia. In addition, psychosocial interventions complement the treatment of patients by supporting family caregivers (educational groups, support programs). The potential of psychosocial interventions in dementia needs to be explored further in studies using improved methodology to determine effective components, clinical relevance and duration of effects, predictors of individual treatment response and health-economic implications.
Depressive disorders are common and lead to both individual suffering and high socioeconomic costs. Despite the fact that several effective therapies are available, remission is often not achieved. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be a therapeutic option in these cases.
The Forensic Therapeutic Outpatient Clinic (FTA) in Berlin targets the professional aftercare treatment of classified high-risk violent and sexual offenders released from prison or forensic psychiatric hospitals.
When the National Socialists (NS) came to power in 1933, the German health care system was reorganized according to the principles of eugenics. Neuropsychiatric patients were victims of compulsory sterilisation and “euthanasia”. As the Saar territory did not become part of the German Reich until the 1 March 1935, it is of special interest how quickly and completely NS health care policies were implemented.
Current international projections suggest that reducing the prevalence of seven well-established risk factors, midlife hypertension and obesity, diabetes mellitus, depression, physical inactivity, smoking and low educational attainment, may also substantially reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).
This article reviews the results of longitudinal studies on frontal brain volume reduction in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and focuses on the relationship with antipsychotic treatment. Based on a systematic literature search all studies were included in which results on changes of brain volumes over a longer period of time were correlated with antipsychotic treatment dose and disease severity. The findings indicate that there is evidence for grey and white matter volume changes of the frontal brain, which cannot be explained by the severity of the disease alone but are also very likely a manifestation of long-term effects of antipsychotics. Whether second generation antipsychotics have an advantage compared to first generation antipsychotics is currently unclear. Considering the contribution of antipsychotics to the changes in brain structure, which seem to depend on cumulative dosage and can exert adverse effects on neurocognition, negative and positive symptoms and psychosocial functioning, the guidelines for antipsychotic long-term drug treatment should be reconsidered. This is the reason why we and others recommend prescribing the lowest dose necessary to control symptoms. In non-schizophrenic psychiatric disorders, antipsychotics should be used only with great caution after a careful risk-benefit assessment. Moreover, treatment approaches which can help to minimize antipsychotic medication or even administer them only selectively are of increasing importance.
The development of high-intensity magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided focused ultrasound (MRIgFUS) ablation has widened the spectrum of interventional techniques for stereotactic functional neurosurgery of lesions. This has resulted in novel incisionless intervention approaches for the therapy of tremor disorders. The safety and efficacy is documented by recent study data.
Functional (psychogenic) tremor is the most common functional movement disorder. Characteristic clinical features, so called red flags, can help to make the clinical distinction of this type from other tremor disorders. The most common features include the variability of frequency and amplitude. Clinical examination should include different types of distraction including motor or cognitive tasks or testing the influence of suggestibility on tremor amplitude, frequency or direction. Patients often report sudden onset and remissions that may last for months or even years. In some cases, the tremor is only present in highly specific situations. Although functional tremor shares characteristics with voluntary actions, patients experience their abnormal movements as involuntary. Recent experimental approaches have revealed an impairment in sense of agency. The diagnosis can be supported by neurophysiological measurements including accelerometry, which achieved a sensitivity of 89.5% and a specificity of 95.9% in a validated test battery, thus providing a useful additional diagnostic tool. Psychotherapeutic treatment is indicated in patients with and without evident psychological symptoms. A specific physiotherapeutic approach for functional tremor is re-trainment.
There is a group of uncommon sporadic tremor syndromes, which are only partially taken into account in the current classification of tremor. Their knowledge is of diagnostic and therapeutic relevance and they should be considered in the differential diagnosis of frequent tremor syndromes.