Huntington's Chorea (kuh-ree-uh refers to the spastic, serpent like movements associated with Huntington's Disease (HD).
A professor once described HD as a combination of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Schizophrenia all rolled up together.
In past times, it was considered a psychiatric disorder and many people who suffered from HD were institutionalized in mental hospitals once the Huntington's Chorea started to appear.
In third world countries, these spastic movements are sometimes seen as possession by evil spirits. These people are often ostracized by family, friends and the social community. They do not live long with no one to care for them.
The chorea movement is difficult to explain. The video below is a couple of examples of what Huntington's Chorea actually looks like. Although it is in German, it is a perfect example of this hallmark muscle movement disorder.
Cause of Huntington's Chorea
The distinctive movements are caused by damage to certain areas in the brain controlling movement, balance, coordination and control.
These movements are not voluntary and the person suffering from this condition has little to no control over their body. Due to mental changes that occur at the same time, they may not even be aware they are making these movements or the limitations they have due to chorea.
As the damage to the brain continues, the movements typically become more pronounced and cause more complications.
Complications of Chorea
Injury, both physical injury and injury from aspiration into the lungs, are the most common complications associated with chorea.
Other complications include weight loss, fatigue, severe pain, incontinence and increased appetite due to caloric demands of the abnormal movements.
Treatment for Huntington's Chorea
In 2008, the FDA approved the very first drug for treatment of the movement disorder associated with HD. The drug is called Xenazine and has shown some success in treating the spastic movements. It is not effective in all cases and does have some very serious side effects.
For more information on Xenazine, go to
Research continues to find a cure HD. Some research is focused on stem cell therapy to repair damaged brain cells and nerve cells.
Current research is also focused on other pharmaceutical options to control symptoms.
Other treatments focus on preventing side effects, including physical and occupation therapies, the use of adaptive equipment, massage and acupuncture.