The Jackie Deakin and Newbigin Family Essay Prize Competition

Full Competition Information here


Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder characterised by involuntary and sustained muscle spasms which cause abnormal movements and postures.Dystonia is debilitating and painful. It can be generalised, affecting the whole of the body, or focal – affecting part of the body such as the jaw, tongue or mouth, head and neck, arms and hands, or the muscles around the eye.

Dystonia in children can be particularly cruel, and is often progressive. It can leave a child with an able mind in a seriously disabled and contorted body, sometimes unable to communicate.

How many are affected?More than 40,000 people in the UK have dystonia, but many remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

What is The Dystonia Society?

The Society was formed in 1983 and has over 3,000 members including family groups and is an extremely active charity which has the following aims:

  • to provide support and information to patients and carers through its Helpline and information services.
  • to promote medical research into the causes and treatments of dystonia, and ultimately to find a cure.
  • to create greater awareness and understanding of dystonia amongst medical professionals, patients, families and carers, and the general public.


Eligibility: to enter, you must be a registered student at a UK medical school, and in your 3rd, 4th, 5th or final year of study.

Format: Each essay submitted must relate to an aspect of dystonia. It must be an original piece of work, authored by the candidate. It should be typed in double-spacing in a minimum of 10 point font, illustrated if relevant, maximum 3,000 words excluding references. Each page must have a footer to include: page number, candidate’s name. References should be relevant and in Vancouver format (as in BMJ).

Please make sure you follow the format above failure to do so will mean the essay will not be marked.

All essays should be submitted via email to –  by 5 pm on 8th December 2014

Topics: open as long as the content relates to dystonia, for example:

  • Treatments – is there a cure?
  • Diagnosis, differential diagnosis and classification of dystonia.
  • Particular issues for women & children
  • Genetics
  • Pathogenesis and pathophysiology
  • Factors affecting quality of life
  • Perception of dystonia within general population
  • Epidemiology
  • The role of EMG in diagnosis or treatments
  • Effectiveness of “specialised therapies”
  • The role of surgery

The panel of judges will include:

  • Dr Mark Edwards (Chair) – Senior Lecturer at the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders at the UCL Institute of Neurology and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
  • Dr Peter Moore– Senior Lecturer in Neurology, Liverpool
  • Dr Kathryn Peall – Clinical Lecturer, Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University
  • Dr Tim Harrower – Consultant Neurologist, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

The panel will be looking for a fresh approach, good ideas, and essays that are well argued and clearly written.

Publication: It is hoped to publish the winning & selected entries in the Society’s newsletter and website.

Prizes:           1st                                            £1,500

2nd                                                                 £750

3rd (5 prizes)                                    £300 each


Submit essay by 5 p.m. on 8th December 2014


Communication: please mark all communications “Jackie Deakin and Newbigin Family prize” in subject line and email to:

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