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Inability to use objects and perform tasks

Alternative names

Apraxia is when a person cannot perform useful tasks even though their muscles and senses work properly.


Apraxia occurs in many forms, including:

  • a failure to understand the use of an object
  • inability to use an object or perform a task
  • inability to do something because of forgetting the command
  • or the inability to control speech muscles and speak understandably

Common Causes

  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Hemodialysis (prolonged)
  • Neurodegenerative illness
  • Brain tumor

Home Care

Safety measures should be taken to compensate for weakness, confusion, sensory deficiencies, or seizures that may accompany this problem. Participation in normal activities is encouraged.

Extreme patience should be exercised with people who suffer from apraxia. Take time to demonstrate tasks and allow sufficient time for the afflicted person to perform the task. Avoid complex directions.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if there is unexplained and persistent lack of ability to do simple, routine acts.

The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed. If there are seizures, the patient will be stabilized first.

Medical history questions documenting your symptom in detail may include:
  • Do you undergo hemodialysis (for chronic kidney failure )?
  • What other symptoms are also present? Especially, is there:
    • Confusion or disorientation
    • Memory loss
    • Weakness or paralysis of any body part
    • Numbness or tingling of any body part
    • Seizures
The physical examination will include emphasis on examination of the nervous system.

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
  • CT scan or MRI of the head or affected area
  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture
  • X-ray
Referral to a physical therapist and sometimes an occupational therapist may be indicated.

After seeing your health care provider:
If a diagnosis was made by your health care provider as the cause of dysfunctional movement, you may want to note that diagnosis in your personal medical record.

Update Date: 5/12/2003

Elaine T. Kiriakopoulos, M.D., M.Sc., Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT