New York, New York - June 1, 2010
Behavioral therapy is showing promise for treating tourette syndrome.
Tourette syndrome is a neurological problem that affects 1 in 2,000 American. The Hallmark? Physical and vocal tics that can wreak havoc on people's social abilities.
"It's not a mental condition, a mental disorder in that people are crazy. And yet sometimes when people see people doing this they think that they must be unstable," said Alan Peterson, a tourette researcher at UT Health Science Center.
Anti-psychotic medications can help patients, but they often carry the risk of serious side effects. Now, in an article in the "Journal of the American Medical Association", Dr. Alan Peterson of the UT Health Science Center and colleagues outline a breakthrough for tourette patients. It's a 10-week behavioral therapy program that helps people anticipate their urge to tic, and provide exercises to alleviate the involuntary movements and noises.
"They've come in initially with severe tics and by the 10th session, I mean, they are completely able to control the tics," said Jeslina Raj, a researcher in the psychiatry department at UTHSC.
The improvements from behavior therapy were startlingly good. 53% of people who learned the relaxation and intervention techniques were able to reduce the severity of their tics, compared to 19% in the control group.
"So we were very excited about that. And the results we got are actually very similar to the results you would get with a medication, but you don't tend to have the same side effects that you would have with medication," said Robinson.
Relief without drugs is a huge advance for people who suffer teasing and employment problems stemming from this mysterious medical condition.
This behavior therapy was developed over the course of 25-years.
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