Unfortunately, current treatment options can not alter the course of HD, but there are medicines available that are effective in treating some of the symptoms of emotional and physical symptoms of HD. It is important to note that drugs to treat some symptoms may result in side effects that worsen other symptoms of HD, thusly making it necessary to evolve and manage medication over the course of the disease. In some cases, people with HD do better when medication is kept to a minimum, but it is important to consult with a neurologist that is familiar with HD and have continuous communication with a regular physician.
There are also interventions that can help to adapt to the changes in his/her abilities for a certain amount of time. Some of the interventions include
- Psychotherapy ; a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker can provide therapy in order to help manage the emotional symptoms of HD by developing coping strategies.
- Speech therapy ; HD can impair control of the muscles of mouth and throat that are essential for speech, eating and swallowing. Speech therapy can help in improving the ability to speak clearly and in addressing difficulties with the above-mentioned muscles.
- Physical therapy ; can help in enhancing strength, flexibility, balance and coordination in order to maintain mobility as long as possible.
- Occupational therapy ; can help in assisting HD patients and caregivers on the use of assistive devices that improve the functional ability.
Nutrition is important in everyone’s life, but takes on added significance in HD. People with HD require an unusually high number of calories to maintain their body weight.
Maintaining, or even gaining, weight can help reduce involuntary movements and other symptoms, particularly in the later stages of HD. Nutritional supplements can help and a nutritionist can offer other valuable suggestions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of “Huntington Disease Principles and practice of nutritional management By Jiří Klempíř and Alžbeta Mühlbäck”.
Often the best advice and emotional support one gets is from someone who “has been there”. The mutual support given, and the knowledge shared are the reasons that many find HD support groups to be an important part of their lives. Support groups are located in many countries.