In March 2000, the Huntington's Disease Society of America named the University of Virginia Health System a Center of Excellence for the care of patients with HD and their families. The UVa HD Program was one of the first 10 Huntington's Centers of Excellence in the nation and is the only one in Virginia.
What is Huntington's Disease?
Huntington's disease (HD) is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. It causes a movement disorder, personality changes, and intellectual decline. Emotional and behavioral changes such as depression, irritability, anxiety, aggressive outbursts, mood swings, and social withdrawal can occur in people with HD. Thinking abilities such as short-term memory and organizational and coping skills may be impaired. Physical symptoms such as fidgeting, twitching and difficulties in coordination may appear, gradually leading to more obvious involuntary movements of the head, trunk, and limbs as the disorder progresses. The ability to walk and maintain balance may be affected, as well as speech and swallowing. Symptoms typically become worse as time passes, so treatment is adjusted to respond to the patient's needs. At present, there is no cure for HD, although there are medications available to help manage symptoms. Assistance through physical and occupational therapy and speech/swallowing therapy can enhance independence and quality of life.
HD is a genetic disorder that is passed from one generation to the next. Each child of a parent with HD has a 50% chance of inheriting the gene that causes HD. Both males and females may have HD and may transmit the gene to sons and daughters. All ethnic groups are affected. The symptoms of HD usually appear during the late 30s to mid-40s, but sometimes become apparent in young children or the elderly. Anyone who has the gene for HD will eventually develop symptoms of this condition.
Learn more about our Predictive Testing Program.
The HDSA Center of Excellence at the University of Virginia holds an out-patient, multidisciplinary clinic for individuals with HD and their families. Each clinic visit is tailored to the needs of the individual. During the visit, patients can receive care and attention from:
An appointment at the HD Clinic can be made by contacting the HD Program Coordinator. The toll free number is (800) 251-3627, ext. 4-2665; the direct number is (434) 924-2665 (Medical Genetics).
We participate in clinical trials related to HD.
Find a physician specializing in Huntington's.