Movement Disorders Program

Disorders We Treat

Complete care for children with conditions affecting muscle movement and control

Every movement a child makes — from smiling to running — involves complex signals between the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. When these signals don’t work as they should, a child may move too much or not enough, or they may have trouble controlling their movements.

At Texas Children’s Hospital, our Movement Disorders Program offers complete care for these conditions in infants, children and teens. Our experienced doctors, surgeons and other providers focus on helping children improve their ability to move effectively.

What are movement disorders in children?

Movement disorders are neurological (nerve-related) conditions that cause problems with muscle movement and control, such as:

  • Increased movement, such as muscle spasms, jerking or shaking
  • Decreased or slow movements
  • Movements that a child chooses to make (voluntary)
  • Uncontrolled (involuntary) movements

Movement disorders can affect one or multiple body areas, and they may change in location and severity over time. The movement problems may happen on their own or only when the child is moving or trying to make a specific movement. Sometimes, the movements happen more often at certain times or have specific triggers or situations that make them worse.

Movement disorders we treat in infants, children and teens

At the Movement Disorders Program, our multidisciplinary team includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic specialists, physiatrists, physical therapists, nurses and social workers. We work together to create personalized care plans with treatment options specifically for your child.

We offer neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery, as needed, and complete nonsurgical options including medications, injections and psychological therapy. We offer on-site inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation including physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Our experienced team diagnoses and treats all types of movement disorders that affect infants, children, teens and young adults.


Ataxia affects the part of the brain that controls coordinated movement, causing balance problems and clumsy voluntary movements. It can cause problems with walking, speaking, swallowing, eye movements and hand coordination.

Children with chorea have irregular, repetitive, writhing or dance-like movements that flow from one body area to another. These movements usually occur in the face, arms and legs.

Myoclonus causes brief, involuntary muscle twitching or jerking. Children with myoclonic twitches or jerks have muscles that unexpectedly tighten (positive myoclonus) or relax (negative myoclonus).

Bicuspid aortic valve occurs when the valve to the aorta, which pumps oxygenated blood to the body, has two sections rather than three. This condition can put strain on the aorta and/or the heart and cause them to malfunction.

Sometimes called juvenile Parkinson’s disease, this disorder involves tremors (uncontrollable, rhythmic shaking), problems with balance and coordination, stiff muscles and slow or reduced movements.

Spasticity involves constant, uncontrollable muscle contractions, which cause muscle tightness and stiffness. This movement disorder affects movement, speech and walking and can cause joint problems, scoliosis and delays in motor development.

Stereotypies cause constant, rhythmic, repetitive movements of the head and upper body, and examples include rocking, hand flapping, pacing and body clenching. Stereotypies can be a symptom of autism spectrum disorder, Rett syndrome and other conditions.

Tics are sudden, repetitive patterns of movements (motor tics) or sounds (vocal tics). Simple tics are brief and involve a small cluster of muscles, such as blinking, face scrunching, head jerking, throat clearing and grunting. Complex tics may last longer and involve more muscles, such as hopping and saying certain words or phrases. Tourette syndrome is a tic disorder involving motor and vocal tics that happen for at least 1 year.

This movement disorder causes uncontrollable, rhythmic shaking of the hands, head or other body parts. Tremors can occur at rest or with movement, and they may involve other symptoms, such as muscle weakness and difficulty with fine (small) motor movements.