Cervical dystonia: Disability and the value of physical therapy

Joost van den Dool

Research output: PhD thesisResearch HvA, graduation external

181 Downloads (Pure)


Cervical dystonia (CD) is a neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions causing abnormal postures and/or twisting movements of the head and neck.

Patients may also experience non-motor symptoms including pain, anxiety and depression. The main treatment option is botulinum toxin (BoNT) injections in affected muscles to improve head postures and reduce pain. In addition to BoNT treatment, patients are often referred for physical therapy (PT), but there is little evidence regarding the long-term effectiveness.

Despite remarkable improvements during the last decades, there are still many unmet needs that remain open in the treatment of cervical dystonia (CD). The first goal of this thesis was to assess clinical issues in BoNT treatment that need further improvement and to define clinical recommendations for clinicians. The second goal was to explore which determinants play an important role in disability of CD patients and the third goal was to develop a specialized PT program and to evaluate its effects on disability.

Results showed that BoNT treatment can be further improved despite all the evidence for its effectiveness. Further research is needed towards optimal treatment intervals, dose equivalence between different BoNT formulations, the use of supportive techniques like electromyography or ultrasound and managing side effects. Secondly, we found that psychological factors are important determinants of disability. Finally, we found that PT is a valuable addition to BoNT treatment to improve disability and pain. Based on these findings, a multidisciplinary treatment approach to further improve the treatment and quality of life for CD patients is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • de Koning-Tijssen, M.A.J., Supervisor, External person
  • Visser, Bart, Co-supervisor
  • Koelman, J.H.T.M., Co-supervisor, External person
  • van der Woude, Lucas , Advisor, External person
  • van der Schans, C. P., Advisor, External person
  • van Hilten, J.J. , Advisor, External person
Award date21 Sept 2020
Print ISBNs9789403425320
Electronic ISBNs9789403425313
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Cervical dystonia: Disability and the value of physical therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this