Ideomotor Apraxia

Ideomotor Apraxia, often IMA, is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to correctly imitate hand gestures and voluntarily pantomime tool use, e.g. pretend to brush one's hair. The ability to spontaneously use tools, such as brushing one's hair in the morning without being instructed to do so, may remain intact, but is often lost. The general concept of apraxia and the classification of ideomotor apraxia were developed in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the work of Hugo Liepmann, Adolph Kussmaul, Arnold Pick, Paul Flechsig, Hermann Munk, Carl Nothnagel, Theodor Meynert, and linguist Heymann Steinthal, among others. Ideomotor apraxia was classified as “ideo-kinetic apraxia” by Liepmann due to the apparent dissociation of the idea of the action with its execution. The classifications of the various subtypes are not well defined at present, however, owing to issues of diagnosis and pathophysiology. Ideomotor apraxia is hypothesized to result from a disruption of the system that relates stored tool use and gesture information with the state of the body to produce the proper motor output. This system is thought to be related to the areas of the brain most often seen to be damaged when ideomotor apraxia is present: the left parietal lobe and the premotor cortex. Little can be done at present to reverse the motor deficit seen in ideomotor apraxia, although the extent of dysfunction it induces is not entirely clear.

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