The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute brings together transformative research and patient-centered care to improve the lives of patients today and those of generations to come.
Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute
UT Southwestern Medical Center offers comprehensive care for people with Huntington’s disease, from screening to treatment to genetic counseling and research.
Our Movement Disorders team is a participating member of the Huntington’s Study Group, a world leader in clinical research aimed at improving the quality of life for patients with Huntington’s disease and their families.
Personalized and Compassionate Care
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that results in progressive degeneration of cells in the part of the brain that control emotions, body movements, and other neurological processes. The cause of HD is unknown, and currently there is no cure.
The UT Southwestern Movement Disorders team works in collaboration with our genetics and metabolism teams to provide people with HD the latest care advances, from clinical trials to genetic counseling.
Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease
Symptoms of HD vary from person to person and might be subtle at first. HD causes some combination of movement disorder, psychiatric problems, and cognitive changes, but the onset and severity of each symptom is unique to each patient.
- Behavioral disturbances
- Change in mood
- Chorea: Abnormal and unusual involuntary
movements or impaired voluntary movements, such as facial movements, grimaces,
head turning to shift eye position, quick or sudden jerking motions, and
- Dementia that slowly gets worse, such as disorientation
or confusion, loss of judgment and memory, personality and speech changes, and
- Dystonia: Involuntary muscle contractions
- Irritability and impulsivity
- Paranoia or psychosis
- Trouble swallowing
Huntington’s is most prevalent in adults, but it can affect children. Signs of the disease in children include:
- Loss of previously learned skills
- Slow movements
The symptoms of HD are progressive, but many people with the disease are able to live independently or with only minor assistance for many years. Eventually, people with HD will require significant assistance at home or in a care facility.
Our Services for Huntington’s Disease
HD has no cure, but symptom management with medications can improve quality of life. Our team in the Movement Disorders Clinic works closely with our colleagues in rehabilitation and psychiatry to provide multidisciplinary treatment for HD patients.
We also work very closely with the local Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA) chapter and are involved in support and outreach programs to help patients.
Research and Clinical Trials
The Movement Disorders Clinic has participated in several HD research trials, and, as members of the Huntington’s Study Group, we continue to be involved in groundbreaking HD research.
Currently, a novel drug for treatment of irritability in HD is being studied as part of the NeuroNEXT trials consortium by UT Southwestern’s Pravin Khemani, M.D., and his colleagues. We are one of the top recruiting sites for this study.
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Richardson, Texas 75080 972-669-7070