Wednesday, January 10, 2018 by Jhoanna Robinson
Balint’s syndrome, which is also called cogan type ocular motor apraxia and optic ataxia, is a rare congenital disease that is defined as a defect in side-to-side eye movements, thereby not being able to adequately respond to stimuli. Affected infants who have been asked to concentrate on an object to one side, their eyes will become shifty and then move in the opposite direction.
In order to compensate for the oversight in the movement, the children will sharply jerk their heads beyond the object of fixation. After having accomplished this, their heads will return to their normal position. These jerky head movements are one of the most apparent signs of Balint’s syndrome, and are usually noticeable around three to four months after the baby with the disorder is born. An infant’s inability to focus on an object may be misconstrued as blindness, until the jerking of the head occurs.
Babies with Balint’s syndrome also have difficulties following rapid movement across their fields of vision, such as fixating on a moving train.
Balint’s syndrome is a genetic disorder; however, it is not clear whether it is inherited as an autosomal dominant genetic trait or an autosomal recessive genetic trait. Dominant genetic disorders transpire when only a single copy of the abnormal gene is needed for the occurrence of the disease. The abnormal gene can be inherited form either parent. The risk of passing the abnormal gene from parent to child is 50 percent for each pregnancy regardless of the sex of the child.
Recessive genetic disorders, on the other hand, transpire when a person inherits the same abnormal gene for the same trait from each parent. If the person receives one normal gene and one abnormal gene for the disease, he is usually going to be a carrier of the disease, but will not be affected by it. The risk for two carrier parents to pass the defective gene and have a child with the trait is 25 percent with each pregnancy.
Balint’s syndrome came to pass as the term optic ataxia (optische Ataxie in the original German) was first popularized by Hungarian neurologist and psychiatrist Rezso (Rudolf) Balint in his 1909 report of a man who exhibited lesions of the posterior parietal lobe on both sides of the brain.
In his study, Balint mentioned that the man often found himself lighting a cigarette with his right hand at its middle instead of at its end. The man could make coordinated right-hand reaches with his eyes closed to different parts of the body, thereby ruling out a right-sided movement disorder, and making it clear that the problem was neither visual nor motor but visuomotor.
Having Balint’s syndrome can make a child prone to having seizures and may make him or her take longer to stand, walk, or sit.
Balint’s syndrome is bad for the ocular system. Aside from being squinty-eyed, a child with Balint’s syndrome may be prone to rapid eye blinking, abnormal eye movements, and head thrusting. He or she may also have difficulty seeing, thus requiring assistance. He or she cannot see one object at a time and may find himself or herself bumping into objects while walking.
Balint’s syndrome is bad for the nervous system. It may contribute to developmental delay and speech difficulties. Some individuals afflicted with the disease also have discrepancies in their brain structures, such as an abnormality in the grey matter, hypoplasia (underdevelopment) of the cerebellum, and hypoplasia of the corpus callosum, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for transferring cognitive, motor, and sensory information between the right and left hemispheres.
Studies have shown that vitamin E deficiency may result in symptoms of Balint’s syndrome. As such, one who is suffering from the disorder is advised to eat vitamin E-rich foods such as almonds, asparagus, spinach, mustard greens, and sunflower seeds.
Since Balint’s syndrome manifests physically, treatments that can do wonders to improve awkwardness and balance are necessary, such as physical therapy, massage, and coordination exercises. All of these strengthen the nervous system and improve muscle memory and performance.
Balint’s syndrome, which is also called cogan type ocular motor apraxia and optic ataxia, is a rare congenital disease that is defined as a defect in side-to-side eye movements.
Balint’s syndrome is bad for the ocular and nervous systems.
Studies have shown that vitamin E deficiency may result in symptoms of Balint’s syndrome.
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