There are two related drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to suppress the irregular movements (chorea) that are a hallmark of Huntington’s disease; however, these medications have potential side effects that need to be monitored. Medications to treat cognitive or behavioral symptoms (such as depression, irritability, or impulsiveness) may be used as well.
Our physical therapists are experienced in helping people with Huntington’s disease optimize mobility and reduce the risk of falling, especially as the disease progresses. They recommend assistive devices, such as walkers or wheelchairs, when needed.
When Huntington’s disease interferes with the ability to perform everyday tasks, such as getting dressed or walking, our occupational therapists can help people maximize their ability to function independently. Evaluations to assess safety with driving tasks are often performed.
Huntington’s disease can affect the ability to swallow normally. Our speech-language pathologists are experts in testing for swallowing problems. They also help develop strategies to reduce the risk of choking or aspiration pneumonia that can result from this. Our speech-language pathologists can offer techniques to improve speaking or thinking skills.
Clinical Social Work
Our licensed social workers provide direct support to patients and their families, promoting resource-sharing, offering support groups, and providing guidance with disability application, among other support.
Psychiatric symptoms often accompany a Huntington’s diagnosis, and Duke’s network of psychiatric experts are available to help manage and mitigate those symptoms.