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Huntington's Disease

Voluntary Control of Chorea?

04/26/2010

Question:

My husband (whose mother has huntingtons)is starting to have twitches and movements. When he is aware of the movement he can stop it voluntarily, although it may start up again fairly soon. Additionaly there are some days when he seems to have little or no problems. Stress is definatly a cause of more movements. When he is distracted (i.e. conversation or concentrating on a book) he has little or no movements, as when he is completly relaxed. My question is in the early stages is it possible to control the movements?

Answer:

Anxiety can make chorea and involuntary movements more pronounced at any stage of the disease. Stress and fatigue can also make the movements appear more pronounced. Affected individuals can sometimes control the movements to some degree. However, the affected individual often isn't always even aware of their own movements, so trying to voluntarily keep them under control all the time is nearly impossible, and trying to "hide" the movements can cause an increased sense of stress.

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Response by:

Sandra  K Kostyk, MD, PhD Sandra K Kostyk, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University