HD Patients' Symptoms Vary

By Laura Bruni

Transcribed from the Dimensions section of the Park Forest Star, March 14, 1996, with permission from the author.

Dr. Kathleen Shannon, a neurologist with a genetic testing center for Huntington's disease, lists the range of symptoms the disease commonly causes. Victims, who span all races and ethnicities, may show any combination of symptoms, complicating diagnoses and symptomatic treatments. Common symptoms fall into three categories.

There are now 25,000 to 30,000 people afflicted with the disease in the United States. An additional 150,000 are at risk. Research on the disease, Shannon explains, involves several areas of study. One is better treatment of symptoms. "This doesn't affect the long-term degenerative nature of the disease," she notes, "but it vastly improves the quality of life for the patients."

Other research is now focusing on blocking the chemicals that may be damaging the brain cells, on strengthening the cells to resist damage, and on cell regeneration by either helping cells repair themselves or replacing dead or damaged cells.

Shannon will speak at the Huntington's Disease Society of America Illinois Chapter's annual brunch April 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Empress Banquets in Addison. More information is at (708) 443-9876.

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Last updated: Dec. 6, 2010