Speech Pathology for Huntington's Disease

Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s Disease (HD) is an inherited progressive neurological disorder that causes degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. HD causes uncontrolled movements (chorea), emotional problems, and loss of thinking ability (cognition).

HD usually causes movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders with a wide spectrum of signs and symptoms:

  • Involuntary jerking or writhing movements (chorea).
  • Muscle problems, such as rigidity or muscle contracture (dystonia).
  • Cognitive difficulties.
  • Feelings of irritability, sadness or apathy.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Swallowing difficulty (Dysphagia).
  • Speech difficulties (slurred speech; impaired breathing; impaired vocal quality; inappropriate rate, rhythm and pitch of speech; imprecise articulation)

Speech Pathology for Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s Disease affects each person differently, so the course of treatment with a Speech Pathologist will vary from person to person as well.

At iBrain, we offer comprehensive communication and swallow assessments to identify strengths and weaknesses. From there we will develop a plan to help support the person with the aim to improve his/her quality of life as a whole. Our skilled Speech Pathologists can provide support and guidance to people with HD and their families and friends.

It is widely agreed upon that the earlier that intervention and support are introduced, the better the chance is of therapy being successful. As Huntington’s Disease is degenerative and can change over time, regular reassessements and management by a Neurological Speech Pathologist can be very important.

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Swallowing problems (dysphagia) occur in people living with HD as the disease progresses. Swallowing problems put people at risk of choking, aspiration pneuomina, malnutrition and dehydration. Drooling is common in people with HD due to difficulties in managing saliva.

Pneumonia is the most common cause of death, followed by cardiovasculair diseases. It has been suggested that choking is the causative underlying factor for pneumonia in HD.

Speech Pathologists at iBrain specialise in providing assessment and management of dysphagia. We can help intervene early and preserve both health and quality of life.

Supporting communication in HD

Communication is the way we connect with other people in. Different skills of communication are greatly compromised, if not lost entirely in people with HD. 

At iBrain, our Speech Pathologists can manage the communication and speech difficulties associated with HD to allow the person to maintain communicative skills for as long as possible. Intervention that we might provide include:

  • Maximising communication skills with exisiting strengths.
  • Teaching Clear Speech Strategies.
  • Providing augmentation and alternative communication methods.
  • Prescribing communication aids or devices.
  • Guiding and educating carers, family members and friends in the most effective ways to communicate with the person with HD.

Comprehensive management for Huntington's Disease

Our team has extensive experience in providing Neurological Speech Pathology to people with HD in swallowing, communication and assistive technology.
Our aim is to promote better quality of life both for people living with HD and their loved ones.

Phone: 1800 719 867
Email: info@ibrain.net.au