CAPOS part A – Areflexia


Hi everyone,

Wow, would you look at that? I first created and published this article on December 16th, 2015. How is it possible that, exactly five years later, I am updating! Weird eh?

To educate you and, mainly, myself about CAPOS.

CAPOS is an acronym that can be translated into: Cerebellar ataxia, Areflexia, Pes cavus, Optic atrophy and Sensorineural hearing loss. It is a condition, a syndrome. Not a disease, it cannot be transferred to others. So if I sneeze, don’t worry about getting CAPOS!

So, when you see the word areflexia, what comes to mind? I mean looking at the word itself: do you see Are, then Flex, followed by Ia? When I first saw the word written on a white board in my neurologist’s office back in 2014, I saw the same; Are-flex-ia…

It took me a while before I started to see it is as: a-reflex-ia.

The linguist in me can ascertain that A is a prefix meaning Not or Without. At the other end of the word, Ia is a medical suffix meaning a condition or state.

Now, you can easily see areflexia means the condition of being without reflexes. Kapow! says that areflexia is an absence of neurological reflexes such as the knee jerk reaction.

Other websites simply say areflexia is an absence of reflexes.

I can recall as far back as 35 years ago, I’d be about 15, at a doctor’s office somewhere. She’d take that rubber hammer to my knee, tapped it twice. Nothing happened. She did it again, no movement, until, about 30 seconds later, I consciously jerked it. Did I fool the doctor? If I hadn’t giggled almost immediately after I jerked, I bet she would have been convinced. She said something that I didn’t hear and wrote something down. Since then, I have noticed that my knees do not react as others do when gently assaulted by a rubber hammer.

Weird how things remembered from so long ago seem relevant today!

Does being areflexic mean my overall reflexes are not as quick as others?

Let us explore:

One time ages ago, I was playing baseball with family and friends, I struck out at least 15 times. I could not see the ball, and when I did, I swung too late or too early.  I’ve never played again. What does this have to do with areflexia? I have no idea! Playing baseball is about eye-hand coordination, reflexes are used to swing the bat at the right time. Based on the fact that I had never played baseball before, my reactions to seeing a ball hurled at me were not ingrained.

I was never into team. sports…

Playing any video game, be it Nintendo Switch, Wii, Xbox, or arcade stand-alone games, I simply suck. Truth! I play with my two sons, and my reflexes are very bad! They always beat me. But, it is not just the character or movements or combination of movements needed to win, it is also the playing field.

In some games my kids play, well MOST games now, the background is usually animated as well. My older son is extremely gifted on games like Super Smash Bros where the background is usually moving as well as the characters! Difficult!

I do miss the boring plain background of Super Mario Bros 2 for NES. As you can see, the sky is uniform, bland!

However, experience does matter. If we are playing a game that I know very well, I have a tendency to beat both kids. Of course, those days are far gone now.

Another example, one of the most basic reflexes is catching a ball or beanbag. This is a skill most kids learn young, that is what gym and PE are for right? It seems to be a natural, fluid motion. I can do this, and I do like sitting on the ground throwing up a ball or beanbag. Why am I sitting on the floor? Well, I miss every third or fourth toss. My hand is in the wrong place, or it closes too quick, or I throw it too far… so I miss as many as I catch. I like to count how many times in a row I can catch the ball at one time. “One, two, three, oh shit, one, two, three, four, fi… one, two…”… Once I caught a yellow beanbag a record 19 times in a row. I have not passed that 19… which I did about 20 years ago…

You can rest assured that I will not be seen at any talent show juggling chainsaws, lit blowtorches or sticks of dynamite!

I noticed that all three of my examples above seem to overlap with vision loss and eye-hand coordination. I think I better look into that! I’ve always had lousy eye-hand coordination.

Aha, here is an interesting question: Does an absence of reflexes affect my neurological processes? My thinking and witty remarks, multitasking, other mental functions?

I asked my neurologist, back in 2015, and the answer is NO. the reflexes don’t have anything to do with my thinking.  They are related to motor nerves.

Which is what I thought.  I need to crank up the retort metre!

Thank you for reading!

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The big five parts of capos

Cerebellar ataxia


Pes cavus

Optic atrophy

Sensorineural hearing loss


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