Apraxic agraphia is a very rare condition. The examiner should think about it when the patient shows normal linguistic capabilities (conversation is normal or almost normal) together with severely impaired writing. Apraxic agraphia is a peripheral writing disorder. Patients with apraxic agraphia have reduced ability to make the motor movements needed to write letters and sequence writting strokes. However, they usually have unimpaired capabilities of oral spelling. In the case of apraxic agraphia, writing is hesitant, imprecise and the disorder should not be explained by motor, sensory, extrapyramidal or cerebellar deficits and executive dysfunction (perseverations).
In case of stroke apraxic agraphia has been reported with frontal, parietal and thalamic lesions. Apraxic agraphia can manifest also with frontotemporal dementia and corticobasal syndrome.
Recently, I examined a 60 years old left-handed man, who had brain multiple ischemic stroke due to an hypercoagulability “trousseau’s syndrome”. The brain MRI showed 2 large lesions respectively of the left superficial territory of the posterior cerebral artery (occipital-temporal basal regions) and of the right parietal supramarginal gyrus. Motor and sensory examination was normal.
This patient had normal linguistic output (normal conversation), mild denomination deficit, signs of visual apperceptive agnosia, alexia (letter-by-letter reading), and some features of apraxic agraphia. Oral spelling was spared. The patient’s writing was extremely low and hesitant as he did not remember how to do it.
An example of the patient’s writing on dictation is reported in the figure.
In this case, it is difficult to establish clinical-anatomical correlations (the same dysfunction is at the origin of both agraphia and alexia?), without further assessment but patients with atypical dominance could help in dissociating mechanisms of neurocognitive syndromes. Could you suggest your personal protocol to assess agraphia?
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