I am sure you have come across some people in a certain posture and you were left wondering, “why is this person like this?” The symptom isn’t the same as slumping over or poor body posture. This body posture is usually associated with body movements that are rigid. The positioning also is abnormally chronic.
Abnormal posture is, therefore, a state where one or more parts of the body are rigidly held or moved in a way that is out of the normal.
Groups of muscles upon contraction in affected persons, fail to offer the required resistance as seen in normal people. The result of their inability to offer that resistance is what makes that part of their body to be rigid and appear the way it appears.
The primary cause of an abnormal posture is a serious injury to the spinal cord or the brain.
Photo Credit: ScolioSMART Clinics
Types of abnormal posture
Three variants exist. They are; Decerebrate, Opisthotonos and Decorticate posture
In decerebrate posture, the toes are pointed, the limbs (arms and legs) are rigid and the head and neck point forward.
In opisthotonos, only the neck and back are affected. The neck tilts back while the back is arched (bent) because of its rigidness.
In decorticate posture, the fists, legs, and body, are affected. The fists are clenched (that is folded), the legs are straight. And the body is rigid.
Different body postures can be switched based on the condition.
When you should see a doctor
Abnormal posture is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be urgently attended to.
Causes of abnormal posture
It is typically caused by injuries to the central nervous system – brain and spinal cord. The specific area of injury will determine the characteristic abnormal body positioning.
The central nervous system can be damaged by any of the following;
- When there is a build-up of fluid is in the skull
- When there is a swelling of the brain
- When your head is directly dealt with blows repeatedly
- When you experience a stroke due to a blood clot in the brain
- When there is a tumor in the brain
- When there is increased blood pressure in the brain perhaps due to malaria
- When there is a condition called meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammatory disease caused by virus and bacteria
- When there is a condition called Reye’s syndrome. It is a condition associated with children. It is characterized by sudden swelling of the brain or liver.
Diagnosis and treatment of abnormal posture
In the diagnosis of abnormal posture, a breathing tube is inserted into the throat of the person. This is to aid breathing. This is because brain trauma and muscle spasms can restrict breathing. This is the first thing that is usually done.
The doctor can then proceed to find the underlying cause of the condition. Your medical history will be taken. In taking stock of your medical inventory, the doctor will ask the following questions and even more;
- When did the abnormal posturing start?
- What kind of posture was it?
- Did you have any trauma due to any injuries?
A physical examination will then be conducted. This will involve time and series of tests in order to arrive at the cause. The tests include;
- Electroencephalogram: in this test, the electrical activities of the brain are assessed. These waves will be compared with the normal waves in a normal person. The problem can then be inferred.
- Cerebral angiography: In this procedure, blood flow in the brain is checked so as to determine the likely cause of the condition. A contrast dye is usually been used in the process.
- Imaging tests: Comprehensive images of the brain are taken. From the result, the underlying swelling or inflammation a part or parts of the brain affected can be detected. Examples of such tests include X-rays and CT scans
- Intracranial pressure monitoring: Intracranial pressure refers to the pressure inside the skull. The skull a fluid-filled socket where the brain is suspended. Intracranial pressure can hence be assessed to determine the likely cause of the condition.
Preventing abnormal posture
Abnormal posture can be prevented by ensuring that it is promptly attended to once symptoms are seen. The following preventive means can be adopted;
The use of a helmet or a headgear: this is particularly important when you are engaging in behaviors that are risky. Such behaviors can be seen as risky sports and games.
Do not administer aspirin to children without first consulting with a doctor.
Taking anti-malarial drugs especially if you are traveling to a place where malaria attack is common. You can do your findings of that particular place before you commence a tour trip.
As much as you can, steps should be taken to prevent cases that can cause blood clot formation.
One of such steps includes;
- Checking your blood sugar levels
- Monitoring your blood cholesterol levels
- Monitoring your arterial blood pressure
- Doing away with smoking if you already have been used to it
- Engaging in exercise as often as possible, at least, thrice a week
Your doctor could recommend other ways you can reduce your chances of developing abnormal positioning.