Tourette syndrome is one of the few neurological illnesses which can greatly affect a person’s lifestyle. A person with Tourette’s would have involuntary body movement called “tics,” ranging from something mild like flinching to cases where patients would flail or curse. In severe cases, some tics could paralyze a patient indefinitely. According to Dr. Curtis Cripe, Tourette’s begins during childhood, with a good chance of it subsiding as one reaches adulthood. For a lot of patients, symptoms subside after just 10 years. However, persistent Tourette’s require a lot of effort in terms of managing the illness.
People suffering from Tourette’s can be categorized by the tics they experience. They can either be vocal tics or physical ones. For both categories, symptoms could either be simple or complex. Simple vocal tics manifest themselves in coughs, sniffles, blows, and screams while complex tics include repetition of words or phrases, mimicking other people, or even swearing. As for physical tics, simple ones could include jerking movements like neck twisting, blinking, and teeth grinding. Complex physical tics are often complex movements like hitting, kicking, shaking, and mimicking the movements of others.
Managing Tourette’s can be tricky. For one, suppressing the patient can simply agitate the person and make the episode worse. This is why lifestyle changes are necessary in order to lessen the episodes. Dr. Curtis Cripe believes that stress can be a big factor in the surfacing of these tics. That is why patients are often told to avoid stress or to have a ready, quiet, and safe space where they can deal with and “release” their tics. The good news is that, given the delicateness of the issue, it is good to know that there is a growing community which supports and helps children and adults suffering from Tourette’s.
Dr. Curtis Cripeis a neuroengineer with a background that includes child neurodevelopment, among other disciplines. He is also the head of the Research and Development Department of the NTL Group. For more insightful reads on neurological disorders, visit this blog.