Focal dystonia precipitated by odor exposure: First case reported

Alan Hirsch, MD, founder and neurologic director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, presented his research on Odor-Induced Pseudodystonia at the 3rd International Congress on Gait and Mental Function in Washington, D.C. on February 27.  

As a neurologist who specializes in the sense of smell and taste, Dr. Hirsch has treated patients with a variety of odor-induced behavioral and physical disorders, spanning asthma, claustrophobia, migraines and seizures. Most recently, Dr. Hirsch reported the first case of an odor-induced movement disorder, dystonia.  

A 52 year old male, factory worker suffered a severe head trauma at work. A year and a half after his accident, he experienced numbness in his face and throat and neck stiffness when he smelled paint. His symptoms worsened and virtually any strong odor was enough to cause a physical reaction. Through his studies with the patient, he found that any strong odor would induce torticollis followed by gait with right foot dragging, circumduction and decerebrate posturing of left arm. The episodes would last from several minutes to four days in duration, preventing him from driving and working. As a result, he has become agoraphobic and essentially confined to his house.

This is the first case report of focal dystonia precipitated by odor exposure. The effects of odor on neurologic function should be considered whenever unusual neurologic symptoms are manifest.

SOURCE Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation


  1. Dave Guarnieri Dave Guarnieri United States says:

    And why not?

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