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Reclaiming trapped limbs: current and emerging treatment strategies for motor conversion disorder

Author(s): Joshua Lai

The DSM-IV diagnostic guidelines for motor conversion disorder stress an association between psychological factors and the onset of unexplained motor symptoms. Treatment strategies, including psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive–behavioral therapy, suggestion-based therapy and pharmacotherapy have, therefore, focused on the identification and management of psychiatric comorbidities. A proportion of patients with motor conversion, however, do not have clear associated psychopathology on structured psychiatric assessment. A growing body of literature on the neurobiological correlates of motor conversion has sparked interest in treatment strategies, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, which may find special applications in this patient population. Here, the evidence behind current and emerging treatment strategies for motor conversion disorder is reviewed, and the application for patients with and without associated psychopathology is discussed.


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