Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by tics like grimacing, blinking and vocalizations, is normally treated in children and teens with one of several antipsychotic medications. But such drugs usually don't eliminate all the tics, and worse, they can often have side effects, acting as sedatives, causing weight gain and impairing cognitive function.
Now, a multisite study led by a UCLA researcher has developed an effective, non-medication treatment for children and adolescents with Tourette's and related tic disorders that has shown improvement similar to that found in recent anti-tic medication studies.
Lead study author John Piacentini, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and his colleagues at seven sites around the nation found that a specialized form of behavior therapy called comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics, or CBIT, significantly reduced chronic tics and tic-related problems in children and adolescents.
Almost 53 percent of children receiving CBIT were rated as significantly improved, compared with 19 percent of those receiving a comparison treatment, and the degree of improvement with CBIT was similar to that found in recent anti-tic medication studies.
The study appears in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Tourette syndrome, which affects approximately six out of every 1,000 children and adolescents, is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics, including eye blinking, facial grimacing, head jerking, throat clearing, sniffing and grunting. Although the repetition of curse words is often portrayed as the defining feature of the syndrome, cursing is an uncommon symptom and is not required for diagnosis of the disorder.
"Besides its physical manifestations, Tourette syndrome can cause a number of other problems," Piacentini said. "It is often associated with other psychiatric p
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University of California - Los Angeles