Physiotherapy Lexicon and Definitions

This page contains health and physiotherapy related terms with their brief definitions. The page will be updated frequently and regularly with new terms and definitions.


Co-ordination ability to execute smooth, accurate, controlled motor responses or movements
Agility ability to rapidly and smoothly initiate, stop, or modify movement while maintaining postural control
Dexterity smooth, accurate and skillful use of fingers motions during fine motor tasks
Intralimb coordination coordinated movements occurring within a single limb
Ataxia most common term to describe motor coordination impairments of cerebellar pathology. It is characterized as a difficulty in movement initiation as well as impaired rate, rhythm, timing and coordination of motor responses.
Asthenia generalized muscle weakness. Linked to cerebellar lesions
Asynergia inability to execute motor response in a coordinated fashion to produce complex movement patterns
Dysarthria disorder of motor component of speech articulation. Characterized by scanning speech with prolonged syllables, inappropriate pauses, slow, slurred and hesitant speech. No continuation or melody in a speech. Absence of a sentence, one word a t a time type. Cerebellar lesion.
Hypotonia decreased muscle tone, diminished resistance to movement
Hypertonia increased muscle tone, increased resistance to passive movement
Dysmetria inability to estimate the distance or required range of movement to reach an object or to complete the required task. Hypermetria – overestimation; Hypometria – underestimation
Dysdiadochokinesia inability to perform rapid alternating movements
Tremor involuntary, rhythmic, oscillatory movements due to involuntary alternate contractions of opposing muscles.
–intention (kinetic) –tremor during voluntary movements which increases when limb nears the target. It may be absent or reduced at rest
–Postural (static) –tremor during upright posture or of the limb held static against gravity
–Rest tremor at rest
Akinesia inability to initiate movement, fixed postures
Bradykinesia reduced, slow, decreased amplitude and velocity of voluntary motor response
Athetosis slow, involuntary, writhing, twisting, “worm like” movements, frequently greater involvement in distal upper extremities. Basal ganglia lesions
Bradykinesia reduced amplitude and velocity of movements
Chorea jerky movements including multiple joints which are involuntary, rapid and irregular. Common in upper extremities. Linked to basal ganglia lesions
Choreoathetosis movement disorder with features of both chorea and athetosis
Hemiballismus sudden, violent, large amplitude movement of both upper and lower extremity of one side of the body
Dystonia sustained involuntary contractions of muscles (both agonists and antagonists)

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