Friday, June 20, 2014

Huntington's Disease

Western medicine describes Huntington’s disease (HD) as a defect of chromosome 4 that affects a persons’ ability to feel, think, and move. Caused by a degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, symptoms vary from person to person depending on what starts degenerating first. The defect that causes all of this damage is found in DNA called the CAG, with any slight mutation, it causes it to repeat more than necessary. On average, a persons’ CAG repeats around twenty times, with HD, repeats can happen more than double the average number.
An inherited or familial disease, it is passed down through generation to generation. Depending on whether the gene passed down was dominant or recessive, you have a fifty percent chance of getting HD along with a fifty present chance of passing it down to your children. HD can also happen sporadically during sperm development causing the mutation that will give the person Huntington’s down the road.

First named Chorea which is one of many symptoms of HD, later to be studied and described by George Huntington of which the disease is named after. Symptoms most commonly start becoming noticeable in adulthood, however; cases of early onset symptoms appearing in childhood to teen years have happened.
The wide array of symptoms includes:
-Behavioral disturbances
-Moodiness/ mood swings
-Restlessness/ fidgeting
-Abnormal and unusual uncontrolled movements (Chorea) including:
·       Facial grimaces, head turning, eye shifting/position, quick/sudden/jerky/slow movements of fingers, feet, arms, legs, face, and torso
·       Unsteady gait/clumsiness/lack or balance/stumbling/uncoordinated
-Loss of judgment
-Loss of memory
-Personality change
-Speech change/impairment
-Difficulty swallowing/eating
-Angry/hostile outbursts
-Trouble with driving/learning new things/answering questions/making decisions
-Difficulty changing clothes
-Changes in handwriting
-Problems with walking/ falls a lot

Symptoms start out slow then progressively get worse over time.

Diagnosis maybe be difficult, numerous steps must be taken before being clinically diagnosed such as: medical and family history will be evaluated, testing intellect and emotion stability, testing movement/balance/and coordination along with strength, sensation, and reflexes. Blood tests will be drawn to examine chromosomes in blood. Brain scans will also be taken such as; CT, MRI, and occasionally PET scan.

There is no known cure for HD only medications that help and/or slow symptoms from progressing. Life expectancy when symptoms start to arise is around ten to thirty years. Cause of death can range from infection, injury, and suicide.

Little research has been done whether traditional Chinese medicine helps with HD, although; I was able to find a case study of a professor who suffered from HD and received acupuncture. After examining his medical history, pulse, and tongue; the acupuncturist diagnosed him with quote “Qi and blood stagnation, internal wind, spleen and kidney deficiency.”  Treatments happened two times a week and after five weeks of treatment there was a noticeable difference in being able to walk better, dress dependently, and an increased ability to read more. Key points were found on scalp along with other points along body.


"50/50: A Huntington's Disease Documentary with Shana Martin." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 20 June 2014.

"Acupuncture for Huntington's Disease." Gancaonet RSS 20. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2014.

Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. "Huntington's Disease." Huntington Disease. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 28 May 2013. Web. 19 June 2014.

"CBS Special on Huntington's Disease/Chris Furbee." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 20 June 2014.

"Huntington's Disease: Read About Treatment Options." MedicineNet., 15 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 June 2014.

" ." Huntington's Disease Society of America. N.p., 2014. Web. 20 June 2014.

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