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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.

Symptoms include:

  • 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 unsteady gait
  • Dementia that slowly gets worse, such as disorientation or confusion, loss of judgment and memory, personality and speech changes, and cognitive impairments
  • Dystonia: Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Incoordination
  • Irritability and impulsivity
  • Paranoia or psychosis
  • Rigidity
  • 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
  • Rigidity
  • Slow movements
  • Parkinsonism

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.