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Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS)


Munetz MR, Benjamin S. How to examine patients using the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale. Hospital and Community Psychiatry Nov 1988, 39 (11):1172-1177 Reference Courtesy of The Virtual En-psych-lopedia by Dr. Bob



Examination Procedure

Either before or after completing the examination procedure, observe the patient unobtrusively at rest (e.g., in the waiting room).

The chair to be used in this examination should be a hard, firm one without arms.

  1. Ask the patient whether there is anything in his or her mouth (such as gum or candy) and, if so, to remove it.
  2. Ask about the *current* condition of the patient's teeth. Ask if he or she wears dentures. Ask whether teeth or dentures bother the patient *now*.
  3. Ask whether the patient notices any movements in his or her mouth, face, hands, or feet. If yes, ask the patient to describe them and to indicate to what extent they *currently* bother the patient or interfere with activities.
  4. Have the patient sit in chair with hands on knees, legs slightly apart, and feet flat on floor. (Look at the entire body for movements while the patient is in this position.)
  5. Ask the patient to sit with hands hanging unsupported -- if male, between his legs, if female and wearing a dress, hanging over her knees. (Observe hands and other body areas).
  6. Ask the patient to open his or her mouth. (Observe the tongue at rest within the mouth.) Do this twice.
  7. Ask the patient to protrude his or her tongue. (Observe abnormalities of tongue movement.) Do this twice.
  8. Ask the patient to tap his or her thumb with each finger as rapidly as possible for 10 to 15 seconds, first with right hand, then with left hand. (Observe facial and leg movements.) [activated]
  9. Flex and extend the patient's left and right arms, one at a time.
  10. Ask the patient to stand up. (Observe the patient in profile. Observe all body areas again, hips included.)
  11. Ask the patient to extend both arms out in front, palms down. (Observe trunk, legs, and mouth.) [activated]
  12. Have the patient walk a few paces, turn, and walk back to the chair. (Observe hands and gait.) Do this twice. [activated]

Scoring Procedure

Date _______ Name_________________




Facial and Oral Movements

Muscles of facial expression,
e.g., movements of forehead, eyebrows, periorbital area, cheeks. Include frowning, blinking, grimacing of upper face



Lips and perioral area,
e.g., puckering, pouting, smacking.



Jaw,e.g., biting, clenching, chewing, mouth opening, lateral movement



Tongue.Rate only increase in movement both in and out of mouth, not inability to sustain movement


Extremity Movements

Upper (arms, wrists, hands, fingers).Include movements that are choreic (rapid, objectively purposeless, irregular, spontaneous) or athetoid (slow, irregular, complex, serpentine). Do not include tremor (repetitive, regular, rhythmic movements).



Lower (legs, knees, ankles, toes),
e.g., lateral knee movement, foot tapping, heel dropping, foot squirming, inversion and eversion of foot


Trunk Movements

Neck, shoulders, hips,
e.g., rocking, twisting, squirming, pelvic gyrations. Include diaphragmatic movements.


Global Judgments

Severity of abnormal movements. based on the highest single score on the above items.


0 = none, normal
1 = minimal
2 = mild
3 = moderate
4 = severe

Incapacitation due to abnormal movements.


0 = no awareness
1 = aware, no distress
2 = aware, mild distress
3 = aware, moderate distress
4 = aware, severe distress

Patient's awareness of abnormal movements