Huntington’s disease (HD) is a brain disorder in which there is progressive neurodegeneration leading to motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Problems may develop in the following three areas: motor control (movement); cognition (thinking); and behaviour often causing speech difficulties and swallowing problems.
Early intervention and involvement with our Speech and Language therapists can help preserve and maintain the person’s highest level of communication and swallowing for as long as possible. As the disease progresses speech and language therapy for Huntington’s disease focuses on using compensatory strategies for loss of function in communication and swallowing.
Symptoms Of Huntington’s Disease
Communication problems in Huntington's Disease may include
- Slurred, imprecise or slower speech
- Low volume or weak voice due to respiration problems.
- Difficulty with resonance and pitch control.
- The appearance of speaking through the nose.
- Abnormally long pauses between words or syllables of words – this is called ‘scanned speech’.
- Dysarthia, in which the capability to understand, remember words and construct sentences is not lost but the ability to speak clearly becomes affected.
- Aphasia, in which there is a lack of understanding of what is being said and an inability to recall the vocabulary and grammar necessary to build a sentence and the annoyance of losing a word mid-sentence.
The Speech and Language Therapist will assess and diagnose your Speech and/or swallowing difficulties associated with Huntington's Disease. As part of the treatment plan our Speech and Language Therapist will also liaise with the SLT's in the hospital and other involved healthcare professionals to ensure continuity of care. Treatment will be individually tailored to each client.
Support: Information sheets will be provided each week in order to encourage and facilitate regular practice and improvement at home between your sessions. At all stages throughout the treatment plan, we will provide detailed guidance for you on how to support your speech and/or swallowing difficulties between sessions depending on what stage of treatment you are at.
Our Speech and Language Therapists work with patients with Huntington's Disease to identify communication and swallowing difficulties they are experiencing in order to provide them with the most effective form of treatment to manage these difficulties. Spectrum Health SLT’s tailor the treatment to the specific Huntington's Disease symptoms of each patient, using various techniques such as Oral exercises, Voice training and Diet modifications where necessary. The aim is to try and maintain skills or adopt compensatory strategies to manage the symptoms
All of Spectrum Health’s Adult Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have ample experience working with adults who have Huntington's Disease.