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 behavior 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.
Our Speech-Language Pathologists will identify communication and swallowing difficulties in order to provide patients with the most effective form of treatment to manage these disorders using various techniques such as oral exercises, voice training and diet modifications. The goal is to maintain skills or adopt compensatory strategies to manage the symptoms.
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