When faced with a diagnosis of a severe medical condition or disability, individuals and their loved ones may have a lot of questions and concerns. It’s important to get answers and be highly knowledgeable in what to expect. Patients living with or recently diagnosed with huntington’s disease need to understand the huntington’s disease definition, as well as the prognosis and symptoms. Read on to obtain more information on this progressive medical condition and speak to your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have.
Huntington’s Disease Definition
Huntington’s Disease refers to degeneration of brain cells in the regions of the brain that control motor skills, as well as other areas of the brain. This disease is inherited, caused by a mutation in the gene for a protein that is known as huntingtin. A child living with the condition usually inherits the altered gene from one parent. There is also a slight risk that someone who did not inherit the gene, but has a parent with the mutation, may possibly pass the genetic sequence onto his or her children.
Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease
Symptoms of huntington’s disease progress over time, and include uncontrollable movements, abnormal body postures and changes in judgment, cognition, behavior and emotion. The condition can also cause impaired coordination, difficulty feeding and swallowing, as well as slurred speech. In terms of cognitive activities, individuals with the condition have trouble paying attention or may have difficulty in thinking through the steps of an activity. They usually struggle with multi-tasking.
Diagnosing Huntington’s Disease
One way to diagnose huntington’s disease is through a complete evaluation that includes medical history, as well as neurological and laboratory tests. People who have a family history of huntington’s disease may also consider genetic testing and family planning options. For parents who are presumed to be high risk for passing the gene onto their children, it is recommended to meet with a genetic counselor.
Treatment and Huntington’s Disease Prognosis
Currently, there is no cure or treatment for huntington’s disease. We hope that through research, a huntington’s disease cure will be developed. Medications are used to treat some of the symptoms of the disease. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, tetrabenazine (Xenazine) is designed to suppress the involuntary jerking and writhing movements that can occur with Huntington’s disease. When patients are experiencing psychiatric symptoms, other drugs are recommended, such as haloperidol (Haldol) and chlorpromazine, have a side effect of suppressing movements. Generally, from the initial onset of symptoms, patients have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
Complex Rehab for Huntington’s Disease
Quantum Rehab® offers a wide range of power wheelchairs and complex rehab technology components that are highly customizable, to provide positioning and functional support. Specialty drive controls can be selected and added to a power wheelchair base, enabling the user to operate the power chair easily. Power positioning and power adjustable seating can be added to the wheelchair to ensure individuals with huntington’s disease are fully supported and have complete access to their environment. Get more information on Quantum power wheelchairs for huntington’s disease.
Huntington’s Disease Society of America
A non-profit organization, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America is dedicated to improving the lives of both individuals and families affected by the disease. The organization assists with community services, outreach, education, advocacy and research. The group strives for a world free of huntington’s disease. If you or someone you love is affected by huntington’s disease and need help, visit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America website for a complete list of resources.