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Literature on childhood Functional Neurological Disorders (FNDs) is spare. Clinical presentations are vaguely characterized and often misdiagnosed in younger ages. Their main neurological features enrol: Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), Functional movement disorders (FMDs), sensory alterations, cephalgia and feeding problems.
The study was aimed to better characterize the childhood population of FND, because of they represent an emerging challenge for clinicians, giving its higher presentation in the younger age and the difficulties of an early and differential diagnosis as well as an effective management.
Our study retrospectively examined the characteristics of 82 FNDs children and adolescents (8 to 16 y.o.; 13 males; 29 females) referred as neurological inpatients of an urban academic neuropsychiatric department, from 2014 to 2019. Three main clinical aspects were analysed: type and pattern of symptoms manifestations (DSM-5 criteria); Life Events; family functioning.
FND accounted for 2% of 5-years consultations of neurological inpatients (M: F=1:2). The clinical presentation was characterized in 70% by pattern of co-expressed neurological symptoms: FMDs (9.5%); PNES (12%); dizziness/lipothymia (12%); paraesthesia/anaesthesia (16%). Generalized pain was associated in 38% of the reported patterns while cephalgia in 44%. Sleep disorders were reported in 40%. Previous psychiatric diagnoses were uncommon (2 out 82). Antecedent stressors were identified in 97% of patients for personal illness history and in the 93% for chronic illness in the family anamnesis. Family problems were in 25% of cases.
Our data contributes to better characterize the childhood population of FND, describing clinical patterns of presentation, highlighting putative antecedent stressors and risk factors
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a clinical condition defined as intentional, self-inflicted act causing pain or superficial damage without suicidal intents (12-35% of the adolescent community). Several findings show a high correlation between NSSI and impairments in the impulsivity control.
The goal of our study is to evaluate the role of impulsivity in NSSI adolescents, relatively to the inhibitory control, in order to investigate if it can represent a neurocognitive risk factor underlying maladaptive behaviours and which psychopathological dimensions can be associated with this neurobiological process.
30 NNSI inpatients (age range: 12 to 18 years), drug-free, were compared with an age-matched control group, using two behavioural paradigms for the study of inhibitory control: the Stop Signal task and the emotive go/Nogo. Psychopathological traits were evaluated by self-report questionnaires for impulsivity dimensions, suicidality and self-injurious acts. Statistical analyses were performed with SPSS program (p =0.05).
NSSI patients did not present impairments in the global inhibitory control but they had longer movement times in both paradigms and faster reaction times in the Go/no-go behavioural paradigm. Therefore, NSSI patients tended to be impulsive at an early stage of movement (rapid TR) and have to slow down in a second phase (TM slow) in order to have time to rework the cognitive processes underlying movement.
The impulsivity dimension is a complex construct that involves multiple interconnected factors. The study of neuro-cognitive and psychopathological aspects and how they are interconnected is necessary to draw new perspectives on the etiopathogenesis of NNSI.
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