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Movement Disorders
Erlanger Neuroscience Institute
979 East Third Street
Suite C-830
Medical Mall
Chattanooga, TN 37403


Tics are spasm-like movements of particular muscles in the body. There are two types of tics: motor and vocal. Motor tics are short-lasting movements and vocal tics are uttered sounds; both may occur suddenly during what is otherwise classified as normal behavior. Tics can be either simple or complex.

Simple Tics

  1. Motor-eye blinking, nose-twitching, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, and facial grimacing
  2. Vocal-throat clearing, yelping, and other noises, sniffing and tongue clicking

Complex Tics

  1. Motor-jumping, touching other people or things, smelling, twirling about, and only rarely, self-injurious actions including hitting or biting oneself; usually a series of movements performed in the same order
  2. Vocal-uttering words or phrases out of context and coprolalia (vocalizing socially unacceptable words).

Doctors use the following four characteristics to identify and diagnose tic disorders:

  • The age when tics began
  • Duration of the tics
  • Severity of the tics, and
  • Whether tics are motor or vocal or both

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