Huntington's disease is a systematic breakdown or degeneration of the brain's nerve cells, called neurons. This progressive degeneration impacts the ability to function, affecting both thought and movement. It also can result in social or psychiatric disorders. A person with Huntington's disease may experience a range of symptoms, from uncontrolled movements to severe depression. The early stages of the disease may cause difficulty in concentration, mood swings, memory loss, and reduced control of body movements. As the disease progresses, symptoms can affect swallowing and the ability to feed oneself.
Huntington's disease is hereditary, and the mutated gene (referred to as the HD gene) is passed from parent to child. There is a 50-50 chance that a child will develop the disease if the parent has the HD gene. The onset of Huntington's disease typically is seen in middle age, but juvenile Huntington's disease can afflict children and young adults under the age of 20. There is no known cure, but researchers have identified the HD gene responsible for the disease, and they continue to work to understand what causes the gene to mutate. Medications are available to minimize and manage side effects.
At UAB, our nationally known Movement Disorders Service features several neurologists, each with a specialty focus one of these conditions. Because of the high national regard for our physicians, thousands of patients annually seek evaluation and treatment at our Comprehensive Parkinson Disease (PD) and Movement Disorder Clinic. Many are drawn by our designation as both an APDA Parkinson’s Disease Information and Referral Center and as a Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease Program of Excellence.
At our clinic you will receive sensitive care from our nursing staff. You will benefit from the full array of the latest diagnostic and treatment methods, including neuropsychological evaluations, medications, deep brain stimulation surgery, and botulinum toxin injection therapy. Our specialists in physical, occupational, and speech therapy are available to help you maximize your functional abilities and quality of life while in treatment.
Because we are an academic and research center, you may be eligible to test new medical and surgical therapies, including neuroprotective therapies for Parkinson disease. Each new patient at the UAB Movement Disorders Clinic is evaluated for inclusion in these ongoing trials. We work with UAB functional neurosurgeons to coordinate treatment strategies for movement disorders, including PD, dystonia, and essential tremor.
UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.View Clinical Trials
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