Huntington's Disease is “a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is, at present, no cure... HD slowly diminishes the affected individual's ability to walk, talk and reason. Eventually, the person with HD becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care” (What is Huntington’s Disease). The “penetrance of the gene [is] close to 100% by old age but is low during the years of reproductive life” (Prediction and Prevention). This disease causes problems in mobility and cognitive ability as well as a few psychiatric disorders.
The first symptoms expressed can be cognitive, mobility, or psychiatric. Many of those affected will experience short-term memory problems. The will often have problems balancing and an unsteady walk. Falling will become more common. They may also experience chorea or involuntary movements as well as dystonia or sustained muscle contractions. Some will have difficulty swallowing. The mental health of people with Huntington’s is also a concern. Many will suffer from depression, OCD, or bipolar disorder. Some may even experience violent outbursts. The age of onset of Huntington’s Disease is usually 30-50 years old; however, juvenile forms are possible, as are later onset. “Individuals with this form of Huntington disease generally survive about 15 to 25 years after onset” (Huntington’s Disease Statistics). Juvenile forms will rarely live into adulthood. Most people do not die from the disease itself, but from additional medical problems like pneumonia and other infections, injuries from falls, and complications due to inability to swallow. As the disease persists, the person will become increasingly dependent on other people for daily care and may become unable to leave their ...
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