Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s disease is an inherited genetic disorder that kills certain cells in the striatum region of the brain, but it doesn’t affect other nerve cells. The striatum controls emotions, body movements, and other neurological processes. This loss of brain cells leads to uncontrolled movements, physical and mental deterioration, and ultimately, death.

Symptoms

  • Abnormal and unusual involuntary movements or impaired voluntary movements, including facial movements, grimaces, head turning to shift eye position, quick or sudden jerking motions, slow or uncontrolled movements, and unsteady gait
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Dementia that slowly gets worse, including disorientation or confusion, loss of judgment and memory, personality and speech changes, and cognitive impairments
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Paranoia or psychosis
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble swallowing

Signs of the disease in children include:

  • Loss of previously learned skills
  • Rigidity
  • Slow movements
  • Tremors

There’s no known cure, but medications can relieve symptoms or slow the progression of the disease.

UT Southwestern Medical Center is a leader in genetics research and screening, as well as learning more about genetic disorders and how to treat them. Working with Children’s Medical Center, we operate Genetic and Metabolism Clinics that focus on the diagnosis and management of a variety of genetic conditions.