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November 1980

Cataplexy and Conjugate Gaze Paresis

Author Affiliations

The Leicester Clinical Sciences Building Royal Infirmary Leicester LE2 7LX England

Arch Neurol. 1980;37(11):737. doi:10.1001/archneur.1980.00500600085023

To The Editor.—  Cataplexy is thought to represent an abnormality of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep mechanism whereby the motor and sleep components become dissociated. This results in periodic episodes of profound loss of motor tone while consciousness is preserved. Symptomatic cataplexy is rare, and the anatomical localization of the defect responsible for the syndrome is, to our knowledge, unknown.1 It is also unusual to encounter cataplexy in the absence of narcolepsy.

Report of a Case.—  A 58-year-old man gave a six-year history of recurrent falls occurring about twice a month and usually precipitated by anger or laughter. He described the sudden onset of overwhelming weakness such that his legs gave way and he fell to the floor. Consciousness was preserved and the attacks lasted only a few minutes. There was no associated sleep disturbance. He had never been able to look fully either to left or right.

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