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The Aberrant Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) is a clinical outcome checklist completed by a healthcare provider to appraise the presence and severity of abnormal movements of the face, limbs, and body in patients with tardive dyskinesia.

Issue measurement tools aid healthcare providers evaluate a person’s overall office. The AIMS can help make up one’s mind if someone is having side effects from medication and track symptoms over time to establish if adjustments to treatment are needed.

This article will explain what the AIMS is, how it works, and its uses.

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What It Is

The AIMS is a clinical outcome scale used to assess abnormal movements in people with tardive dyskinesia.

Tardive dyskinesia is a movement disorder characterized past irregular, involuntary movements virtually commonly in areas of the face up, around the optics, and of the oral cavity, including the jaw, tongue, and lips.

These involuntary movements tin can nowadays as abnormal tongue movements, lip smacking or puckering, grimacing, and excessive blinking.

While irregular movements occur nearly oftentimes in the face, tardive dyskinesia tin can also cause irregular and involuntary movements of the arms, legs, and trunk.

What Does the AIMS Measure?

The AIMS is a questionnaire that a healthcare provider fills out to measure out the presence and severity of aberrant movements in people diagnosed with tardive dyskinesia.

How Information technology Works

The AIMS is an examination assessment form with 12 questions regarding the presence and severity of aberrant movements in people with tardive dyskinesia. The questions are divided into the following sections:

  • Facial and oral movements (including the muscles of facial expression, lips, jaw, and natural language)
  • Extremity movements (including the arms, wrists, easily, fingers, legs, knees, ankles, and toes)
  • Trunk movements (including the neck, shoulders, and hips)
  • Overall severity
  • Dental status

Before healthcare professionals fill up out the questionnaire, they will ask you some questions and instruct you to perform certain movements as they make observations.

Questions the assessor will ask include:

  • Is there annihilation like glue or processed in your mouth?
  • What’southward the condition of your teeth?
  • Do you wear dentures?
  • Have you noticed whatever involuntary movements in your mouth, face, hands, or feet?
  • If yes, do these movements interfere with daily activities?

The assessor will then instruct you to perform the following movements:

  • Sitting in a chair with hands unsupported
  • Opening your rima oris
  • Sticking out your tongue
  • Tapping your thumb, alternating with each finger
  • Angle and extending each arm, 1 at a time
  • Standing up from a chair
  • Extending both arms, with palms facing down while continuing
  • Walking a few steps, turning around, and walking back to the starting position

Questions 1 through 9 cover the presence of abnormal movements in the face, mouth, arms, legs, and body, and the overall severity of symptoms.

How Is Each Question Ranked?

The assessor will rank each question along with the post-obit 0–4 scale:

  • 0: None
  • 1: Minimal
  • ii: Mild
  • 3: Moderate
  • four: Severe

Question 10 relates to your awareness of your symptoms and how sorry these symptoms are, forth with the following scale:

  • 0: No awareness
  • 1: Enlightened, no distress
  • 2: Aware, mild distress
  • iii: Aware, moderate distress
  • four: Aware, astringent distress

For questions 11 and 12 that pertain to dental status, the assessor will answer yeah or no to the following two questions:

  • Current problems with teeth and/or dentures?
  • Does the person usually wear dentures?

While the AIMS has 12 questions, the total score is based on the sum of questions one through 7 and scored along with the following guidelines:

  • 0–1: Depression risk of movement disorder
  • 2 for only 1 of seven body areas: Deadline motility disorder, requiring close monitoring
  • ii for two or more of seven body areas: Movement disorder likely, requiring referral for a consummate neurological examination
  • iii–4 for only one body expanse: Movement disorder probable, requiring referral for a complete neurological examination


The AIMS isn’t used to diagnose a person with tardive dyskinesia. Rather, information technology’s used to track the severity of symptoms and any improvement or worsening of symptoms over time.

Tardive dyskinesia occurs equally a side event of taking certain medications, like antipsychotics to treat psychiatric disorders or dopamine agonists, which act like the neurotransmitter dopamine that sends messages between nerve cells, to care for the nervous system disorder Parkinson’s disease.

A Late-Onset Side Effect

“Tardive” means late-onset, indicating that these abnormalities of movement typically ascend in people who take been taking sure medications for an extended time. It may take months or years of taking these medications for symptoms of tardive dyskinesia to develop, and symptoms may persist even later medication is discontinued.

The score on the AIMS is currently used as the standard for evaluating the efficacy of handling for tardive dyskinesia. A 2- to 3-point decrease in the total score on the AIMS can be considered clinically meaningful when evaluating whether electric current handling is successful in reducing symptoms.

The Tardive Dyskinesia Assessment Working Group devised guidelines that suggest the AIMS should exist administered to people treated with antipsychotic medication at regular intervals (every three to 12 months) to track symptoms of tardive dyskinesia over time.

It’southward too recommended to perform regular self-examinations and check in with your healthcare provider about any abnormal movements during every follow-up visit.


The AIMS is a clinical outcome measure used to assess aberrant movements in people with tardive dyskinesia. These involuntary movements primarily nowadays equally abnormal tongue movements, lip smacking or puckering, grimacing, and excessive blinking.

The AIMS is an examination cess course with 12 questions regarding the presence and severity of these abnormal movements. The full score is based on the sum of questions 1–7 and scored along with boosted guidelines. The questionnaire is completed by a healthcare provider.

The AIMS is currently used equally the standard for evaluating the efficacy of treatment for tardive dyskinesia.

A Word From Verywell

The AIMS can be a useful tool for tracking tardive dyskinesia in people when showtime diagnosed, as symptoms progress, and as they worsen. The test doesn’t diagnose tardive dyskinesia, only it’s ofttimes used to rails the effectiveness of handling for reducing symptoms.

Prevention is key for managing tardive dyskinesia. Considering taking antipsychotic medication poses the risk of developing tardive dyskinesia, it should simply exist prescribed if admittedly necessary and at the everyman effective dose. If symptoms of tardive dyskinesia become present, the dose should be lowered or discontinued.

In other cases, Ingrezza (valbenazine) or Austedo (deutetrabenazine) can be prescribed to help reduce aberrant movements.

Verywell Wellness uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to back up the facts within our articles. Read our editorial procedure to learn more about how we fact-cheque and keep our content authentic, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Stroup TS, Greyness N. Management of common adverse effects of antipsychotic medications.
    World Psychiatry.
    2018 Oct;17(3):341-356. doi: 10.1002/wps.20567.

  2. Briggs Healthcare. Abnormal Involuntary Motility Scale (AIMS).

  3. Stacy M, Sajatovic Chiliad, Kane JM, et al. Aberrant involuntary movement scale in tardive dyskinesia: Minimal clinically important difference.
    Mov Disord. 2019;34(8):1203-1209. doi:10.1002/mds.27769

  4. Kane JM, Correll CU, Nierenberg AA, Caroff SN, Sajatovic G; Tardive Dyskinesia Assessment Working Group. Revisiting the Abnormal Involuntary Motility Scale: Proceedings From the Tardive Dyskinesia Cess Workshop.
    J Clin Psychiatry.
    2018 May/Jun;79(iii):17cs11959. doi: 10.4088/JCP.17cs11959.

By Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT

Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT, is a medical writer and a physical therapist at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey.

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