Dystonia. It sounds like a dark, debilitating alien world--and for the estimated 300,000-plus people in North America alone who suffer the wrath of associated neurological disorders, it often is.

Effects of repetitive skilled finger movements on functional organization in a primate motor cortex, as measured by microelectrode stimulation. Training resulted in improved motor skill and expansion of digit representation.

Randolph J. Nudo
Dystonias are movement disorders in which sustained muscle contractions cause involuntary twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures, classified by the body parts affected. Focal dystonias affect a single muscle or group of muscles; multifocal and segmental dystonias involve two or more groups of muscles; and generalized dystonia afflicts the whole body.

Focal dystonias are most prevalent. Among the most common are spasmodic torticollis, a condition where muscles in the neck cause the head to twist to one side; blepharospasm, where eye muscles forcibly close the eyelids; and...

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