Non-drug Treatments for Huntington's Disease
Movement difficulties are a hallmark of Huntington’s disease. Physical therapy has the potential to improve Huntington’s patients’ quality of life by improving their movement. Although the exercises recommended for Huntington’s patients train different areas of the body, all are aimed at preventing falls, promoting correct walking and body control, building coordination, and encouraging a positive and confident attitude toward the body.
Occupational therapy is designed to help people who face challenges carrying out day-to-day activities due to conditions like Huntington’s disease, an injury, or disability. An occupational therapist can help patients with basic skills such as eating, walking, bathing, and dressing. The main goal is to have patients maintain their daily living skills as long as possible and improve their quality of life.
Speech therapy may be able to help patients with speaking and swallowing issues. It is recommended to see a speech therapist as soon as possible after diagnosis, allowing for advance planning on how to handle changes as the disease progresses. A therapist also may be consulted when the patient starts to show changes in the ability to speak or understand, or begins having trouble swallowing.
Palliative care is aimed at improving the quality of life of patients facing life-threatening conditions, as well as relieving pain and other distressing symptoms. For people with Huntington’s disease, palliative care can be provided at any time as the disorder progresses. However, it is likely to become a greater focus as the person nears the end of life. Patients or caregivers may ask their doctor for a referral to palliative care specialists.