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Tourette Patients Benefit From Behavioral Therapy: Study
Date:8/6/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Tourette Syndrome patients fare better when offered tic management therapy as opposed to support sessions solely focused on providing information about the neurological disorder, new research suggests.

The finding is based on a study of 122 patients between the ages of 16 and 55, all of whom struggle with the sudden and unwanted repetitive physical and verbal tics that characterize Tourette Syndrome.

"Typically, medication has been used to treat tics," explained study author Sabine Wilhelm, director of the OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and Related Disorders Program at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston. "But many patients refuse or discontinue medications due to unwanted side effects."

"Behavior therapy," Wilhelm said, "takes a different approach from medication. Patients often report a premonitory urge -- that's an unpleasant sensation -- prior to engaging in the tic, and they engage in tics in order to relieve the urge. Behavior therapy helps patients to disrupt this pattern. In behavior therapy, patients learn to detect signs that a tic will likely occur and they are taught to engage in competing responses, which are behaviors that are physically incompatible with the impending tic. Thus, patients learn new ways to manage their tics."

"We tested a newer behavioral treatment for tics called Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT)," she said. It "teaches patients to consider the impact of their environment on tics and incorporates procedures to reduce environmental influences that increase tics. The result of our study is exciting news for patients with tic disorders as they now have solid support for behavior therapy for tics."

Wilhelm and her colleagues from several other institutions (including Yale University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio) repor
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