HealthWACH: New treatments for Tourrett's Syndrome



Touretteâ??s syndrome (TS) is caused by a malfunction in the brain and can be linked to genetics. Adults and children who are affected by this syndrome experience â??ticsâ?? which are uncontrollable movements and sounds. It is common for Touretteâ??s patients to have other issues such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety, emotion and behavior control problems and learning difficulties. TS is measured by the severity of the patientâ??s tics; sometimes a patientâ??s tics will go away by the time they have reached adulthood.

If a person is under the age of 18 and is noticing constant tics for more than a year, then there may be a chance that the individual has Touretteâ??s syndrome. There are two kinds of motor tics and two kinds of vocal tics; simple and complex tics. Simple motor tics include: head jerking, eye darting and blinking, finger flexing and shoulder shrugging. Complex motor tics consist of flapping the arms, hopping around and crude gesturing. As for vocal tics, some simple symptoms are yelling, hiccupping and throat clearing, while complex vocal tics incorporate the repetition of anotherâ??s own words, the use of different tones of voice and the use of swear words.

As of now, there is no cure for Touretteâ??s syndrome, but there are medications offered to those who have tics that interfere with daily functioning. Most patients do not need treatment but behavioral treatments such as habit reversal and comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT) are offered to those who suffer from severe tics. A new drug is being studied to decrease the amount of tics a patient with Touretteâ??s experiences. Typical medication is injected into a muscle several times a day to relieve the tic, while this new pill only requires one dose a week. Side effects from older medication include weight gain, fatigue and dulling of the mind. This new medication is still being studied but will be preferred for patients so they do not have to constantly remember to take their medicine.