Diagnoses & Conditions


Understanding Hemiballism

Chorea is an involuntary (not controlled by the individual) movement disorder. In chorea, parts of the nervous system do not work properly and may be caused by bleeding in the brain, head trauma, cancer, nervous system infection and other conditions. Hemiballism is the most severe form of chorea.

Symptoms of Hemiballism

Hemiballism is characterized by brief, sudden, spontaneous, violent movements involving the arm or leg on one side of the body.

Diagnosing Hemiballism

Given the wide variety of disorders that can cause hemiballism, a thorough medical history, and physical evaluation can narrow the diagnosis. Blood, laboratory, or imaging tests may be performed to identify the cause of hemiballism.

Treating Hemiballism

Treating the underlying cause of hemiballism can resolve symptoms with time. Medications (taken orally) used to treat hemiballism include risperidone (Risperdal®), haloperidol (Haldol®), perphenazine (Trilafon®), pimozide (Orap®), chlorpromazine (Thorazine®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), topiramate (Topamax®), and tetrabenazine (Xenazine®). If medication does not work and the symptoms are severe enough to impair activities of daily living, surgery becomes an option.


This content is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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