Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a hereditary disorder of a person's central nervous system. The condition usually develops in adulthood, affecting both men and women equally. Huntington’s disease is caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4 which leads to damage of nerve cells around the brain. There are often physical, cognitive, behavioural and emotional changes within a person as Huntington’s disease progresses.

How does Huntington's disease manifest itself?

People with the disease may experience involuntary movements, speech and language difficulties, and weight loss. Cognitive changes such as lack of drive, initiation, poor attention and self-monitoring may appear. Consequently the person may experience erratic changes in their behaviour and have decreased organisational skills. There may be changes to the person’s mood with issues such as depression and, less commonly, psychosis. The psychological effects of Huntington’s disease can be just as debilitating as the physical consequences. Subsequent stress can be placed on relationships with family and friends.

What are the symptoms of Huntington’s Disease?

Most people will start to experience symptoms of Huntington’s disease in their 30s and 40s, although this can vary. There is also a juvenile version of Huntington’s which can begin much earlier, though is rarer. If a family is not aware of the genetic risk and, therefore, not aware of Huntington’s disease, then diagnosis can be a lengthy process.

The early symptoms of Huntington's disease include:

  • Stumbling and clumsiness
  • Cognitive changes such as difficulty in organisation
  • Changes in mood
  • Aggressive or anti-social behaviour
  • Uncontrollable muscular movements

Services for those with Huntington’s disease

We believe that through a compassionate and person-centred approach that we can help individuals to rebuild and strengthen family and other social relationships. We understand the importance of sensitive care and support for individuals that may present with distressed reactions, to improve their emotional wellbeing and ensure their safety.

When the disease progresses, many individuals with the disease struggle to cope in their own environment and can no longer be cared for safely at home. At this time, Priory can provide a safe therapeutic place to best meet the needs of the individual. Priory is experienced in providing a range of specialist complex care services for people who have Huntington’s disease, from early diagnosis until the end stages of the disease, including palliative care, supporting both the patient and family , with the intention of maximizing quality of life and maintaining functional independence for as long as possible.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Huntington’s Disease, please call 0800 840 3219. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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