Locked-In Syndrome

Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body (except for those that control eye movement). It may result from traumatic brain injury, vascular diseases, demyelinating diseases, or medication overdose. Individuals with locked-in syndrome are conscious and have cognitive function, but are unable to speak or move. The disorder leaves the patient completely mute and paralyzed. Communication may be possible with blinking eye movements.


There is no cure for locked-in syndrome, nor is there a standard course of treatment. Functional neuromuscular stimulation may help activate some paralyzed muscles. Several devices to help communication are available. Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.