Occupational Therapy for Huntington’s Disease

Occupational therapy is designed to help people who face challenges carrying out day-to-day activities due to an illness like Huntington’s disease, an injury, or disability.

An occupational therapist can help a Huntington’s patient 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. Another objective is to improve their quality of life.

As an example, a therapist can offer suggestions on how a person can safely continue participating in leisure activities they enjoy. When certain leisure activities are no longer practical, the therapist may be able to propose alternatives.

The focus of a Huntington’s patient’s occupational therapy is likely to change as the disease progresses. It’s best to start while symptoms are minor to build a relationship between the therapist and patient. An early start also helps a patient learn coping strategies they can use throughout their disease.

Occupational therapy in early and middle stages

During the early stages of the disease, a person with Huntington’s may opt to continue working. An occupational therapist can help the patient decide when to talk to their employer about their condition. If the patient is having job performance difficulties due to the disease, the therapist may be able to suggest adjustments that can keep them at work.

A therapist can also help assess whether it is safe or practical for a Huntington’s patient to keep driving.

When a Huntington’s patient begins having trouble with memory or planning, simple steps such as using lists, calendars, and labels for items around the house may help. An occupational therapist can help them break down complex tasks into more basic parts.

As the disease progresses, eating may become a challenge. An occupational therapist can offer tips on maintaining good posture at the dinner table, which is important for safe swallowing. Utensils can be made easier to grasp by wrapping their handles with tape or cloth.

Occupational therapy in later stages

Involuntary movements may increase in the later stages of Huntington’s. At this point, occupational therapy will focus on preventing injury. Padding may be recommended on surfaces that pose a hazard. Floor mats are an option if falling out of bed is a concern. Different types of beds can be chosen to help patients sleep safely.

Another problem in the later stages of the disease is contracture, a permanent shortening of a muscle that results in deformity. The occupational therapist can explore strategies such as splinting that help keep limbs in appropriate positions and helps slow the contracture process.


Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.