Overview of HD Motor/Physical Symptoms

Motor/physical symptoms of HD include emergence of involuntary movements (chorea) and the impairment of voluntary movements, which result in reduced manual dexterity, slurred speech, swallowing difficulties, problems with balance, and falls. Chorea typically progresses through the middle stages of HD, but often declines as rigidity increases in the later stages.


Movement Problems

  • Movement problems lead to activity limitations and falls in persons with Huntington’s disease. Movement problems include:
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
  • Akinesia (delayed start of movement)
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Motor impersistence (inability to sustain a movement like holding a cup in the hand without dropping it)
  • Difficulty with rapidly alternating movements (turning the palm of the hand face up then face down rapidly)
  • Difficulties performing sequences of movements (getting out of bed, standing up from a chair).


Involuntary Movements

There are also involuntary movements such as:

  • Chorea (brief, irregular movements): Chorea is typically seen first in the fingers, hands, and face muscles, and progresses to include all four limbs and the trunk.
  • Dystonia (abnormal, sustained positioning of a part of the body): The most common types of dystonia are twisting of the arm with hand clenching, excessive bending of the knee, and twisting of the foot.