5 ways to manage Huntington’s chorea

Living with a chronic, degenerative condition can be incredibly taxing on the individual suffering from it and their families, as there is no permanent cure to put a stop to the gradual deterioration the patient has to undergo. One such progressive ailment, which is known to affect one in 10,000 people in the country and affects the mind and body alike, is the Huntington’s disease. This disease is an inherited condition as it occurs due to the defective gene that the child inherits from their parents. Huntington’s disease is characterized by the progressive breakdown of the nerve cells in the brain, which, in turn, affects the individual’s functional abilities and causes movement, thinking, and psychiatric disorders.

One of the prominent symptoms of Huntington’s disease is chorea, and like all the other symptoms associated with this condition, it gradually worsens over time. Chorea is basically a movement disorder that causes involuntary, unpredictable body movements, which can range from minor ones like fidgeting to severe uncontrolled movements of the arms and legs. It is known to be a symptom occurring in several other health conditions as well, and the treatment of the same depends on the type of chorea the patient suffers from.

Treatment for Huntington’s chorea

  • Huntington’s chorea is usually treated or bought under control with the help of antipsychotic drugs and other medications, but there’s no complete cure for the same. As chorea is characterized by sudden, involuntary movements, the condition worsens as the disease progresses.
  • Living with Huntington’s disease and chorea can be extremely difficult for the individual as they gradually lose their mobility and have to depend on caregivers to perform their daily activities. This loss of independence is what makes living with Huntington’s chorea difficult and patients are often diagnosed with clinical depression. One of the treatment approaches to Huntington’s disease and chorea involves psychotherapy. A psychiatrist or a clinical social worker can help the individual manage their behavioral problems, develop coping strategies to come to terms with the progression of the disease, and facilitate effective communication among family members.
  • Huntington’s chorea can impair the control of muscles of the mouth and throat and causes a gradual decline of the individual’s speaking ability, which is why the patients are expected to undergo speech therapy that helps them to improve their ability to speak clearly and they even teach patients to use communication devices. Moreover, the speech therapists are equipped to help patients address the difficulties with the muscles used in eating and swallowing.
  • As Huntington’s disease progresses, the chorea too becomes more prominent. The involuntary movements and twitching become more evident and this affects the individual’s ability to move around on their own. To cope with the deteriorating physical condition, the patients are advised to undergo physical therapy where they teach the patients appropriate and safe exercises that can improve the flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination. Chorea increases the risk of falls, but with the necessary physical therapy, the exercises help them maintain mobility as long as possible and reduce the risk of falls. Maintaining an appropriate posture and using support devices can reduce the severity of the movement issues.
  • Lastly, there are several strategies available for patients with Huntington’s disease and their families to cope with the challenges that the health condition presents. These support services can help in giving caregiver education to the families and several local and social service agencies provide daytime care for people with the disease.