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800px-Smiling_girlThe Girl Who Collapses From Laughing

6-25-11

Kay Underwood, a 23-year-old girl from England, has a disease called Cataplexy that only affects one in 2,000 people.  This disease is brought on by any strong emotion that triggers the weakening of muscles. These strong emotions can include exhilaration, fear, surprise, anger, or even laughter.

There are degrees of Cataplexy, ranging from barely perceptible to severe, as in Kay’s case.  In a given day, Kay will collapse over forty times, according to the Telegraph.  Some people with Cataplexy only feel their facial muscles slackening, while others may drop their head, go weak in the knees or totally collapse.  People with Narcolepsy are often times also affected with Cataplexy and will drop off to sleep without warning.

Treating Cataplexy associated with Narcolepsy is simpler than treating Cataplexy on its own.  There are several treatment options for Narcolepsy, but there is no known cure for Cataplexy or the origins of the disease.  Theories of its origin include chemical imbalances in the brain due to an immune problem or the result of an infection.  In Kay Underwood’s case, she has been visiting with sleep disorder specialists hoping to find a cause for this and new medicine.


- @BodiesExhibit