What is Huntington’s disease?
Huntington’s Disease is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is, at present, no effective treatment or cure. Huntington’s disease slowly diminishes the affected individual’s ability to walk, think, talk, and reason. Eventually, the person with Huntington’s disease becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care. Huntington’s disease profoundly affects the lives of entire families — emotionally, socially, and economically.
Early symptoms of Huntington’s Disease may affect cognitive ability or mobility, and include depression, mood swings, forgetfulness, clumsiness, involuntary twitching, and lack of coordination. As the disease progresses, concentration and short-term memory diminish and involuntary movements of the head, trunk, and limbs increase. Walking, speaking, and swallowing abilities deteriorate. Eventually the person is unable to care for him or herself. Death follows from complications such as choking, infection, or heart failure.
What are Huntington’s disease symptoms?
Symptoms usually evolve slowly and vary from person to person, even within the same family. Some individuals may be affected first cognitively (depression, forgetfulness, impaired judgment). Others suffer with motor skill impairment (dystonia or involuntary movements, unsteady gait). Eventually, every person afflicted by Huntington’s disease requires full-time care.
Domains affected include cognitive, motor, and behavioral. Members of the same family may exhibit different symptoms. Some can show mild involuntary movements (chorea) and have more emotional/behavioral symptoms of Huntington’s disease or can have less emotional/ behavioral symptoms with more difficulty with involuntary movements.