Essay about Huntington's Disease

Submitted By Shalita-Monique
Words: 1681
Pages: 7


In the world today there are countless diseases, some preventable some not. Several of them are lifelong but cause no serious terminal issues. Others have a slow or fast onset with deadly symptoms. Either way, whether it be one disease or another, each person contracting or born with a disease all have one thing in common: Psychosocial issues. These issues describe the mental rise or decline a patient has when he or she is diagnosed with a disease. It also describes the family, and their mental rise or decline as well. One illness in particular that has an abnormally high decline in health and psychosocial coping is ‘Huntington’s Disease’. From the patients’ side, their decline comes from knowing that their life will end because of this disease ultimately and watching themselves lose control over one body part or system after another. On the familial side, having to give total care to this person is just as equally difficult because of the hardships that come along with it. It is necessary to understand what Huntington’s Disease is and what it does to the human body. This will be explained as well as each side (the patient and family) being thoroughly described by the end of the research. Huntington’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder caused by a defective gene in chromosome 4 – one out of the 23 total chromosomes that care a humans’ genetic code. This specific defect is deemed ‘dominant’, which means that anyone who inherits this from his or her parent, will indefinitely develop the disease some time in life. This defective chromosome creates the protein called ‘huntingtin’. This protein has been known to be the cause of ‘Huntington’s Disease’. This protein leads to the brain changes that create the persons’ severe decline in thinking and reasoning, involuntary movements, irritability, depression and other mood changes. The symptoms of this disease on a general note develop in the prime of life, between the ages of 30 and 50, but can appear as soon as 2 or as late as 80. One part of the symptoms are the movement disorders which will include both involuntary movements and impairments in a persons’ voluntary movements as well. For example:
• Involuntary jerking or writhing movements, otherwise known as chorea
• Involuntary, sustained contracture of muscles, also known as dystonia
• Muscle rigidity
• Slow, uncoordinated fine movements
• Slow, abnormal eye movements
• Impaired gait, posture and balance
• Difficulty with the physical production of speech
• Difficulty swallowing
Following the difficulty moving, the cognitive disorders create another issue, especially with a persons’ day to day activities. A few examples of this would be:
• Issues with planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks
• Not being able to begin a task or start a conversation
• Lack of awareness of one’s own behaviors and abilities
• Spatial perception issues which causes falling.
• Difficulty focusing on a task for long periods
Psychiatric disorders are included but the most common is depression. This is not simply caused as a reaction the disease. In fact, it is actually because of the injury and changes to the brain. To name a few, some of the signs and symptoms are:
• Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
• Social withdrawal
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
(Mayo Clinic, May 2011)
Other mutual psychiatric disorders include: OCD, Mania, and Bipolar disorder. Needless to say, this is a very difficult degenerative disease and definitely a life changing one in which much family support is needed. Now that the cause and the symptoms of Huntington’s disease are known, it is necessary to go into the psychosocial effect of it on the diagnosed and the family. Family support is, without argue, one of the strongest forces that keep a lot of human beings ‘going’, for the reason that this is one group of people that, no matter what, will remain a constant