What is dysmetria?
Dysmetria is caused when the cerebellum isn’t functioning correctly. This part of your brain allows you to make coordinated movements and process thoughts and behaviors.
It’s a symptom of many conditions and can occur with several other symptoms like tremors and ataxia.
There is no specific treatment for dysmetria, but your doctor may recommend treatment for the underlying condition causing it or discuss how to manage the symptom as best as possible.
What are the symptoms of dysmetria?
Dysmetria can affect your upper extremities like your arms, hands, and fingers. It can also affect your lower extremities, like your legs and feet.
Dysmetria can appear in a few forms:
- hypermetria, which is when you overreach or overstep
- hypometria, which is when you underreach or understep
If you have dysmetria, you can’t complete movements from point to point. For example, it may be very difficult to grab an object with your fingers. You may underreach or overreach for the object you’re trying to grasp.
Dysmetria may occur with other symptoms that can impair your cognitive functioning.
You can also develop ocular or saccadic dysmetria, which occurs when you’re having trouble focusing your eyes. For example, if you try to switch your focus from one point to another, you would be unable to move your eyes in one solid motion. Instead, you may look too far away from the point or not look close enough to the point.
In addition to dysmetria, you may have other symptoms linked to cerebellum functioning. This includes ataxia, or the inability to control muscle movements. Ataxia may impact your ability to walk, balance, swallow, speak, and see.
What causes dysmetria?
Dysmetria occurs when lesions develop on your cerebellum. This part of your brain can be altered by many conditions, including:
- cerebellar degeneration
- alcohol or drugs
- multiple sclerosis
- vitamin B, vitamin E, or thiamine deficiency
- Lyme disease
- head trauma
- a reaction to barbiturates and sedatives
- Hashimoto’s disease
- celiac disease
This isn’t an exhaustive list of conditions that can cause motor problems with your cerebellum. If you have dysmetria as a symptom, you should see your doctor to diagnose the underlying condition.
How is dysmetria diagnosed?
There are several ways a doctor can test for dysmetria:
- Finger-to-nose-test: This test requires you to stretch out your arm and then touch your fingers to your nose. Additionally, your doctor may ask you to touch your nose and then reach and touch the doctor’s finger in various locations. Your doctor may also ask you to do this at various speeds or with your eyes closed.
- Heel-to-shin test: This test requires you to lie down and bring your heel to the top of the opposite shin. Then you must move the heel down from your shin to the top of your foot repeatedly.
- Imaging tests: Your doctor may order a head MRI to get an image of your brain.
- Genetic tests: Your doctor may run genetic tests if there’s a possibility that something in your family health history may point to the condition responsible for dysmetria.
How is dysmetria treated?
Dysmetria itself can’t be cured. Your doctor may be able to control the symptom by treating the condition causing it, or you may have to make changes to live with it.
Your doctor may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help you function with dysmetria. You may also need to use assistive devices to function in your daily life. An example is using a weighted utensil to help you eat.
You should also discuss the mental implications of dysmetria with your doctor to determine if you could use professional help coping with the symptom and learning how to adjust to any cognitive impairments dysmetria may cause, such as with your mood and mental processing abilities.
What is the outlook for dysmetria?
Your doctor may be able to treat the dysmetria by treating the condition causing it, or you may need to adjust to life with the symptom.
There is still much to be learned about how the brain works. Research into brain functioning continues to expand, and researchers may discover more treatment options for dysmetria in the future.