Role of the SLP in management of Huntington’s disease : a literature review
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Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating, autosomal-dominantly inherited and progressive motor system disease that currently is estimated to affect more than 30,000 people in the United States (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [NINDS], 2017). Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease and prognosis is generally poor, with death occurring at around 15-20 years post-diagnosis (NINDS, 2017). Given HD’s distinct effect on motor function, most of the literature has centered around pharmacological treatment for movement. As a result of the disease’s progressive nature, cognition, and swallowing are likely to become impaired over the course of the disease; however, the effects of the disease on these systems have been studied to a lesser extent. Consequently, evidence to support the efficacy of rehabilitative therapies for management of HD symptoms is lacking. Not only is this gap in the literature concerning, as HD carriers could potentially be missing out on therapies that may prove to be beneficial, but it also hinders therapists’ use of evidence-based practice for management of the disease. This paper examines available research regarding the management of HD from a communication sciences and disorders (CSD) perspective for use by clinical speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Specifically, this literature review examines evidence-based research regarding the diagnosis, assessment, and management of disorders of speech, language, cognition, and swallowing, with the goal of providing insight into the SLP’s role in the management of HD.