Treating tics

Roughly one percent of the population experiences Tourette Syndrome (TS), a distressing condition that begins in childhood and is characterized by motor and vocal tics.

Although first described in 1885, this neuropsychiatric condition is still not fully understood. We do know it typically begins between the ages of seven and 10, affects three to four times more boys than girls and often causes significant impairment in ability to function in both a school setting and at home.

Treatment options can be complicated due to a very high incidence of co-existing psychiatric conditions such as ADHD or obsessive compulsive disorder. Many treatments are available to assist those experiencing the symptoms of TS, but to date no one treatment has surfaced as the ideal.

Recently, a multidisciplinary team funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research and the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada has published much-needed Canadian treatment guidelines to assist physicians.

In order to make the new guidelines, the research team reviewed existing studies on this condition and evaluated the quality of the studies as well as their results. Weak or strong recommendations were given to each of the available evidence-based treatments.

Essentially, intervention in Tourettes can involve education, psychotherapy or medication. Every situation is different and each case must be evaluated separately.

In all cases, patients and their families can benefit from receiving a full diagnosis and learning about the condition and its prognosis. For many mild cases, simply being educated about what to expect is enough to help individuals cope successfully with symptoms.

Practical strategies such as informing teachers and classmates about tics and teaching children with TS how to handle questions about their disorder can help to make things easier in school and social settings.

Tic symptoms usually subside on their own by the time the individual finishes adolescence and many people are encouraged when they learn this.

Still, for many, the tics are very distressing and more than education is needed to restore functioning and reduce physical and psychological pain. Behavioural therapy is shown to be supported by fairly strong evidence and can be helpful in these cases. Various medications are also available to help reduce tic symptoms and more are in the research stages.

Okanagan Clinical Trials is currently conducting a study of an investigational medication to possibly treat symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. If you know someone between the ages of seven and 17 with Tourette Syndrome, he or she might be eligible to participate in this ongoing research study. Contact us for more information.


Current Studies

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 Interested in participating? Call us for more information!