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What is Huntington's disease?

Huntington’s disease is a hereditary central nervous system disorder. The condition usually develops in adulthood, and affects both males and females equally. Huntington’s disease is caused by a faulty gene on chromosome 4 which leads to the damage of nerve cells around the brain. As Huntington’s disease progresses, it can cause a range of physical, cognitive, behavioural and emotional changes.

How does Huntington’s disease manifest itself?

People with Huntington’s disease may experience involuntary movements, speech and language difficulties, and weight loss. Cognitive changes such as a lack of drive, initiative, attention and self-monitoring may appear, and individuals may also experience erratic changes in their behaviour as well as decreased organisational skills. There may be changes to the person’s mood with issues such as depression and, less commonly, psychosis, becoming apparent. The psychological effects of Huntington’s disease can be just as debilitating as the physical consequences, and 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 the 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, although this is rarer. There is also a genetic element in Huntington’s disease, and if a family is not aware of this, or the illness itself, then diagnosis can be a lengthy process.

The early symptoms of Huntington’s disease may include:

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

Treatment for Huntington’s disease at Priory

We believe that through a compassionate and person-centred approach, 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 and therapeutic place to 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 maximising quality of life and maintaining functional independence for as long as possible.

Enquiries and Referrals

For further information on Priory services offered to the NHS, or to make a referral, please call our dedicated 24/7 customer service centre on 0800 090 1356. Alternatively, click here to submit an enquiry form

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