Huntington’s disease causes progressive breakdown of nerve cells in your brain. This can affect you in many ways, including behavioural changes, dementia, involuntary movements, and difficulties with coordination.
If you’re living with Huntington’s disease you may have found your movement and posture are becoming progressively worse and completing once simple daily tasks is increasingly difficult.
Our neuro physiotherapists at Valens Care provide Huntington’s disease treatment, aiming to reduce complications and support your muscle function so that you can be active and independent for as long as possible.
Here we discuss Huntington’s disease and how physiotherapy may help.
What is Huntington’s disease?
Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder. This means the condition is passed down through families and impacts the brain. The disease is triggered by a defective gene which causes a protein to build up and damage nerve cells in the parts of the brain that are responsible for your movement, thinking, personality and emotion.
The condition is progressive meaning your symptoms may start subtly, then as time goes on, become more obvious.
Huntington’s disease symptoms
Huntington’s disease can present differently from person to person. Symptoms can manifest at different times, in unique ways, and their severity can vary significantly.
The symptoms of Huntington’s disease are classified into three groups:
1. Physical symptoms- One of the most noticeable symptoms is involuntary movements called chorea. These movements can be jerky and uncontrolled. Often chorea begins as twitches, which may be felt in the fingers, toes, face or limbs. The movements become bigger and more obvious as the disease progresses.
You might also experience difficulties with balance and coordination, which can create difficulties with walking and maintaining proper posture. Muscle stiffness, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing are also common.
2. Cognitive symptoms– Cognitive functioning is important for everything you do from buttoning your shirt to reading a book to doing your grocery shopping. In the earliest stages of the disease, cognitive symptoms may be less obvious. Then, as the disease progresses you may experience difficulties with memory, attention, and problem-solving. These cognitive changes can significantly affect your daily life and independence.
3. Emotional symptoms– These can include depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. You may experience sadness and crying with no obvious cause, or you may find yourself laughing or smiling at inappropriate times. Some even experience impulsivity and aggression.
Huntington’s disease physiotherapy
At Valens Care, we understand that receiving a Huntington’s disease diagnosis may be frightening. Our neurological physiotherapists are experienced in supporting those living with the condition to optimise their quality of life. We’ll work with you to make the most of your abilities and help you continue doing the things you enjoy for as long as you can.
We start by assessing your condition and creating a treatment plan tailored very specifically to your individual needs. We then track your progress and adjust your treatment plan as your condition changes.
Your treatment plan may include:
- Exercises to support your mobility.
- Strength training to support good posture.
- Education regarding body positioning.
- Hand exercises for improving fine motor coordination and grip strength.
- Interventions to reduce your risk of developing secondary complications like pressure sores, muscle contractures or chest infections.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce muscle rigidity and support flexibility.
- Transfer education, training and practice.
- Massage and hydrotherapy sessions to relax your muscles.
- Assessment of your environment and advice on assistive aids.
The Valens Care difference
At Valens Care, we recognise the impact that living with Huntington’s disease can have on both individuals and their families. We’re here to support you through every stage of your journey.
Our NDIS-registered mobile physiotherapy service makes it easy for you to access the high-quality, consistent support you deserve.
To learn more about Huntington’s disease physiotherapy treatment with Valens Care, call us today.
* All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Valens Care can consult with you regarding your individual health needs.
Healthdirect. (2021, May). Huntington’s disease. www.healthdirect.gov.au/huntingtons-disease
Huntington’s. Queensland (2019). Huntington’s Disease Symptoms. https://huntingtonsqld.org.au/huntingtons-disease/symptoms/
Huntington’s Queensland. (2019). What is Huntington’s Disease? https://huntingtonsqld.org.au/huntingtons-disease/what-is-hd/