View Full Version : man in a barrel syndrome

18th March 2019, 08:15
Good morning

I spotted this term on Facebook - "man in a barrel syndrome"

I know I should not really be on Facebook, but there you are.

When I queried that the person posting that used it, he was obviously taken aback a bit and check it out and then said, apparently it is something that consultants regularly used to describe somebody who has lost the use of both arms.

I gave up at that point that was troubled enough by this to check here whether anybody knew if this was correct?

Apart from anything else, of course, it is not only men that get motor neurone disease

Best to all


18th March 2019, 17:10
Hi Andy,

Have to agree it is a horrible term to use :(

Fortunately it's not something I have ever heard being used on this Forum or by anyone I've met in Clinics over the years.

In MND terms, it'd mean someone had bilateral flail arm syndrome, with no other areas affected, which would be very rare indeed. It is a medical term which applies to non-MND conditions too, but seems callous and outdated to use nowadays.

That Neurologist, like many others, could do with some lessons on How To Treat A Patient As A Person... :rolleyes:

Btw, nothing wrong with being on FB :)

Love Ellie.

19th March 2019, 09:51
Dear Ellie

Have to agree it is a horrible term to use :(

Thank you

bilateral flail arm syndrome

Ah! So that is the technical term

From Mr Google I found this reference, which also mentions that insulting term in 2015;




20th March 2019, 21:55
I also agree with the term being awful. I started mnd in one arm before it spread to the other. Also my neck muscles weakened so I would walk around with my arms very flat against my sides while looking down at my feet. My mnd nurse did mention the term to me but she also disapproved of a it.
I do however understand why the term was used as that's exactly how I felt before I heard the term. I remember searching for the term and I think the term may have originated from polio patients who were in an iron lung. Looking at pictures I could see why it would be used in the past. I never got definite answers if this is how it originated however.


20th May 2019, 10:01
Good morning,

Coming back to this after my recent visit to my own neurologist....

bilateral flail arm syndrome

When asked, he offered the description "flail arm" without prompting - I knew he was one of the good guys!

Let us hope this becomes more current in usage than it appears to be in the research community



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