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  • Writer's pictureJulie Manley

Physiotherapy and Exercise with Huntington Disease

Emily and I are heading to the Huntington Society's monthly meeting on Wednesday April 20th. We are presenting on the benefits of physiotherapy and exercise with this degenerative neurological condition.

For anyone who doesn't know what Huntington disease is, here is the wikipedia link:

Using research, experience and knowledge PLUS a huge shout out to our last PT student, Rebecca Holland, we have a presentation to share with the Society. Below are some of the interesting points we will be presenting.

-Physiotherapy is often underutilized in the treatment of Huntington disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Neurological Physiotherapy, this may be due to the rapidly progressive nature and the complexity of the cognitive decline that is associated with the disease.

-However, physiotherapy and exercise can assist in the maintenance, functional independence and improvement in quality of life by addressing movement, cognitive, and psychiatric changes that occur as a result of Huntington disease progression.

-Goals of physiotherapy with Huntington include:

•Enhance fitness and wellness


•Maintain respiratory capacity

•Prescribe and fit assistive devices

•Stabilize gait and balance

•Educate and support caregivers

•Establish and guide exercise programs

-We know that exercise reduces balance impairment, and decreases decline in mood, cognition and motor deficits

-New research shows that exercise is neuroprotective and may slow disease progression

-Recommended exercise guidelines: comprehensive programs, 3 times per week in order to see cognitive benefits. Long-term regular physical activity is associated with significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline. Exercise can change the timeline for dementia.

-A comprehensive exercise program for people with Huntington's disease should include exercises for:

Flexibility (stretching)


Balance exercises

Gait component training

Endurance/ cardiovascular

Depending on someone's stage of disease, physiotherapy will help work toward goals to maintain function and improve quality of life. Our gym staff can help change any exercise programs to keep them safe as someone's function changes. Contact either Active Living Physiotherapy or Active Living Fitness Club for an appointment.

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