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February 4th, 2012
10:34 AM ET

Taking the 'mystery' out of conversion disorder

When 12 students at a high school in New York suddenly developed strange symptoms like stuttering, uncontrollable twitching movements and verbal outbursts, the community was concerned. Was there something in the environment? Was it a virus of some sort spreading dangerously? Three students and one adult have since also exhibited the same symptoms. Doctors at DENT Neurologic Institute have now diagnosed some of the girls with "conversion disorder," leaving people even more confused.

What is conversion disorder?

A person with conversion disorder has neurological symptoms that aren't related to any known neurological condition, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The symptoms could appear as uncontrolled motions or verbal outbursts, like the students in New York, or as anything from weakness or paralysis to a loss of vision or hearing.

In diagnosing conversion disorder, doctors must first rule out other neurological diseases and determine that the symptoms are not being intentionally faked. Often the symptoms are inconsistent with typical signs of a neurological disease – either physical signs or those that might show up on a diagnostic test. FULL POST


Could toxic chemical be source of tics in NY town?
February 4th, 2012
10:12 AM ET

Could toxic chemical be source of tics in NY town?

Trichloroethene (TCE) has become a chemical of interest after environmental activist Erin Brockovich suggested that the derailment of a train carrying chemicals 41 years ago could be involved in the mysterious illness striking 16 people, mostly high school students in New York.

Brockovich’s team was dispatched to the Le Roy Junior/Senior High School, in Le Roy, New York, this week to collect water and soil samples. The school is more than three miles from the train wreck site, but some worry that the school was built in 2006 with contaminated supplies. The school district has called the speculation a “distraction” and a “publicity stunt.”

The New York State Department of Health, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency have been involved. But the agencies have not found an environmental or infectious cause, according to a school district statement. TCE was one of 58 different chemicals and 63 pesticides tested for; the results showed nothing out of the ordinary, according to the state’s health department. FULL POST


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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