Huntington’s disease is hereditary, causing degeneration of the brain and affecting 30, 000 Americans. It impacts a person’s cognitive function, affecting movement, thinking and psychiatric disorders. Named after Doctor George Huntington, who was the first physician to publish precisely about the disease in 1872.
Symptoms of the disease generally develop between the ages of 30 and 50, however they can appear at ages as young as 2 or old as 80. The main symptoms are uncontrolled body movements, and a decline in thinking and reasoning skills. It can affect memory, concentration, judgment and planning abilities, causing mood alterations including depression, anxiety, anger and irritability. It can also lead to obsessive compulsive behavior.
There is no cure for the disease, but its symptoms can be treated to enhance the patient’s quality of life. Physical therapy can prolong mobility by helping with coordination, balance and flexibility. Occupational therapy can help with activities of daily living by helping with alternate ways of completing tasks. Swallowing and eating problems can be addressed with speech therapy.
Maintaining strength and a healthy body weight is important so that the patient has the muscle mass to continue doing everyday tasks. This helps with their self esteem, as well as preventing depression, apathy and the greater likelihood of getting infections that come with it. Exercise, social and psychological support are important for patients with Huntington’s disease. Their medication needs to be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are getting the most effective treatment.
Because the disease affects individuals differently, treatment needs to be customized for each patient. HealthNow Healthcare professionals can develop a treatment plan that includes therapy, medication management and assistance with homemaking. Some of the available services include:
HealthNow Healthcare professionals can also provide extra in-home services if necessary, such as: