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The use of olanzapine for movement disorder in Huntington’s disease: a first case report
  1. Department of Psychiatry, Leicestershire Mental Health Service Trust, Huntington’s Disease Service, Mill Lodge, Mill Lane, Kegworth, Derby DE74 2EJ, UK. Telephone 0044 1509 670774.

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    Movement disorder is a prominent feature of Huntington’s disease and consists of involuntary and voluntary components as well as associated bradykinesia. Pharmacological treatment is problematic because of the side effects of the drugs used, which may further compromise cognitive functioning and mobility. Patients are often not subjectively aware of their movements but can be considerably disabled by them and carers are often distressed and enquire about treatment options. If drug treatment is considered it is important to achieve the maximum improvement in movements with the minimum of negative side effects. This paper describes the effect of olanzapine on movements when other treatment options had been ineffective or limited by side effects.

    Huntington’s disease is a hereditary progressive neurodegenerative disorder. It consists of a triad of symptoms comprising motor, psychological, and cognitive abnormalities. The motor component consists of involuntary choreiform movements and increasing difficulties with voluntary movement. The degree of the involuntary movements is variable but in some patients can be very marked. Progression over time of the movement disorder in Huntington’s disease can be monitored using the quantitative neurological examination (QNE). This measure has three subscales, an eye movement scale, a motor impairment scale (MIS) quantifying voluntary movement, and a chorea scale measuring involuntary movement.1 2

    Pharmacological control of the symptoms has been shown to be effective with dopamine antagonists,3 4 but their use is limited because of the side effects. Clinically the most problematic of these are sedation, cognitive slowing, increased mobility problems, and hypotension. The inability of traditional dopamine antagonists to improve functional capacity, despite ameliorating chorea, is possibly due to suppression of voluntary motor activity.4 5Tardive …

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