SAINT VITUS’S DANCE.–This is a disease of the nervous system, the precise nature of which is not known. It is closely allied to rheumatism, and is often found associated with it. It is almost entirely a disease of childhood. The chief feature of it is a loss of control over the movements of the limbs and features. When the patient wishes to perform any act the limbs, instead of doing what he wishes, are jerked in different directions. The first symptom noticed is often an unaccountable clumsiness on the part of the child; he drops things for no reason, and a cup or a tumbler is never safe in his hands. Children are often scolded or punished for this when it is really a disease, and nothing could be more injurious. When children become fidgety, clumsy, and stupid after being the opposite, St. Vitus’s dance (or Chorea, as it is technically called) should always be suspected. Except in the worst cases, there are no movements in sleep. It is quite curable, especially at the beginning.
General Treatment.–The great thing in chorea is to clothe and feed the patient well. Woollen clothing next the skin is a necessity. Bread, milk, and oatmeal porridge, milk puddings, eggs, beef-tea, and meat should be the dietary, with little sugar, sweets, pastry and confectionery.
Open-air exercise is also necessary, and if the child can be sent into the country, so much the better.
Medicines.–(Three times a day.)
–This is the first medicine to be thought of.
–After a fright.
Actea r. 3.
–If there are symptoms of rheumatism and restlessness at night.
–Where there is great debility.