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Huntington’s disease by Jocelyn Owens

By at May 21, 2012 | 8:47 am | Print

Huntington’s disease, abbreviated as HD, is a genetic neurodegenerative that breaks down the brain nerve cells until that individual is incompatible of doing everyday task or controlling emotions. Most cases start around the age of 21. Someone can only get this disease if one parent is carrying the defective gene, which gives them a 50/50 chance of developing the disease. The disease can be passed down from either the mother or father. Fortunately, HD does not skip generations of families but it only becomes possible to pass down if the parent is carrying the gene. Their are ways to find out if an individual has passed the disease to their children by genetic testing but it will not indicate when the symptoms will occur. The test is highly reliable; no test is 100% accurate. Even though, there is no cure for this disease with the advancement of medications it craved a way to slow symptoms. This disease is so dangerous because it shows no bias towards age group, race, or gender so anyone can develop this deadly disease.

HD has many symptoms but the timing and severity ranges among each individual person. The most common symptom is the involuntary movement or twitching, commonly known as chorea. Some more movement disorders are slow movements in muscles and eyes also difficulty holding conversations and problems swallowing. Eventually the movements will impair that person to be unable to perform activities, communicate, or remain independent. Some of the cognitive symptoms are difficulty in learning, problems with sticking to task, and problems in staying balance and strong bouts of clumsiness. With adjusting to all these cognitive and movements disorders, HD causes individuals to have depression. It has been proven that the onset of the depression is because the injury to the brain not the onset of the symptoms. It’s really important that someone with HD does see a psychiatrist to make sure their depression is not turning into suicidal thoughts. Other common psychiatric disorders is OCD, mania, and bipolar. The onset of these disorders does drive an individual to have anxiety, inappropriate sexual thoughts, and irritability.

Someone with HD does have to be monitored very closely to ensure they are getting the proper treatment and top notch care. The individual’s caregiver is the most important role because they work closely with the medical team to get the patient the proper care. The caregiver needs to learn how to educate themselves about the disease, as well as, other family members that may be affected. They will need to have a team of medical professionals that may includes; neurologist, psychiatrist, mental health therapist/psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech and language pathologist, dietician or nutritionist, nurse, and lastly that person’s general health care provider. The need for a team of health professionals instead of just one is because of the complex nature of HD. This disease does not just affect the brain it controls the whole person making the health team a vital part of their longevity. With no cure present the many professionals can treat the symptoms and make the individual comfortable to gain back some movement.

 

Work citied

“A caregiver’s guide to huntington’s disease.” Huntington’s disease society of America. March 2011. 10 April 2012. www.hdsa.org.

“Huntington disease.” U.S. Department of health and Human services. 03 January 2012. 10 April 2012. www.nlm.nih.gov

 

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