Huntington’s is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder, affecting the coordination of muscles, and ultimately leading to cognitive and behavioral issues. “Neurodegenerative” refers the deterioration or progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington’s is a genetic, inherited disease. It is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse with time, characterized by dementia, uncontrollable movements, memory issues, mood swings, speech complications, and concentration issues.
Juvenile Huntington’s disease is when the disease onsets before the age of 20, whereas most people with Huntington’s don’t develop signs and symptoms until their 30s or 40s. While various medications can be use to manage symptoms, no existing treatment is able to prevent the physical, behavioral, and mental decline that is associated with Huntington’s.
According to Stanford’s outreach program, behavioral changes that have documented in people afflicted with Huntington’s include apathy, depression, aggression, disinhibition, repetition, anxiety, denial, and hallucinations and mania. Of course, these behavioral changes are not only intense for the afflicted party, but also for the caregiver. For example, when an individual suffers from apathy, those around him or her may feel that they are not the same person.
Despite the incredible complications associated with Huntington’s, individuals with the disease can still meet their personal life goals. Perhaps the most famous example of who overcame the limitations of Huntington’s to make his mark on history was legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie. Guthrie, who penned the iconic “This Land is Your Land,” is one of the keystones of American music and culture. As Woody’s disease progressed, he lost control of his bodily movements and eventually was hospitalized. The point is that even with the limitations of Huntington’s, it is still possible to accomplish great things.
In learning to live with Huntington’s, and working towards the best quality of life possible, comfort is key. The spasms and other physical manifestations of Huntington’s can also feed into cognitive and psychiatric complications. Therefore, by maximizing comfort, a person with Huntington’s may be able to mitigate some of the symptoms of the disease. BRODA Seating offers a variety of specialized wheelchairs to provide additional support and padding and help prevent injuries, including BRODA’s 785 Elite Tilt Recliner with Huntington’s Special Padding. By maximizing comfort and pursuing one’s passions (as Woody did) it is possible to live with Huntington’s and accomplish amazing things!