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Movement Disorders on YouTube Not What They Seem, Experts Warn
Date:9/21/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Most depictions of movement disorders on the popular video-sharing website YouTube are not what they claim to be, warn a group of neurologists who reviewed them.

Two-thirds of 29 videos on YouTube showing people with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia and tremors were deemed to be "psychogenic," meaning those on camera were suffering instead from a psychological ailment that showed up in abnormal body movements, according to a letter published in the Sept. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"For patients with a movement disorder, the information available on YouTube may be misleading and may provide an inaccurate impression of the disorder and its treatment," stated the letter, which was written by eight international physicians.

"The fact that such a large number of videos showing psychogenic movement disorders are available on the Internet highlights an underlying problem that affects virtually every medical specialty, and the information these videos provide can interfere with the effective recognition and care of patients with a movement disorder," the physicians added.

The doctors' group -- comprised of clinicians from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands -- asked seven neurologists who are experts in movement disorders to independently evaluate the most-watched YouTube videos of patients purported to have such a disorder and to judge whether it appeared to be psychogenic or "organic" (having a physical cause).

Noting that movement disorders, which produce unwanted and/or spastic movements of various body parts, easily lend themselves toward video demonstration, the letter said only 34 percent of the videos were deemed organic.

Dr. Michael Pourfar, director of the Movement Disorders Center at the Cushing Neurosci
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