Can Exercise and Physical Therapy Benefit Those with Huntington’s Disease?

Can Exercise and Physical Therapy Benefit Those with Huntington's Disease
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Huntington’s disease is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that is mostly passed down genetically to future generations.

It impacts those who have it differently, at different rates, and with varying severity over time, but when it hits it can be devastating.

With no known cure, the question has shifted to what can be done to lessen its symptoms so those who have it can live a more normal life for as long as possible.

With that said, has any scientific research looked into whether or not exercise or physical therapy can benefit those diagnosed with Huntington’s disease?

Fortunately, the answer is yes.

Of particular note is a systematic review done by researchers from Wayne State University, Columbia University, Ohio State University, and Cardiff University which was published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease in 2017.

The researchers looked at 20 studies conducted between 2003 and 2017 that included exercise and physical therapy interventions with both quantitative and qualitative outcomes measured.

Their review found that there is at least preliminary evidence that exercise and physical activity could benefit those with Huntington’s disease in motor function, gait speed, and balance. These improvements showed social benefits as well.

More research needs to be done as no conclusions on the best type of exercise or physical activity intervention could be made based on the data obtained so far.

That does not mean, however, that we have not uncovered some extremely useful information.

The indication that physical activity can benefit patients in some of the ways that are most debilitating to their ability to live life the way they were once able to or socialize the way they were once able to is an extremely hopeful sign.

This may indicate that early detection of the disease combined with appropriate exercise or physical activity could have an impact on lessening symptoms or hopefully even delaying them, though we need more statistical data to back that assumption up.

So regardless of whether or not you have or could have Huntington’s disease, this is more evidence of the vital importance of exercise to all of us.

We have seen studies showing its impact on conditions like heart disease, reported here, and even anti-aging and reduction in mortality, reported here.

If you decide to embark on an exercise program to improve your odds of preventing disease, reducing symptoms of existing disease, or simply to lengthen your life, be sure to talk to your doctor about the best exercise plan for you that is safe.

And know that you have power in your hands!


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