It is estimated that there are approximately 350,000-450,000 children and adults in the United States Tourette’s syndrome. The neurological disorder causes tics that can range from repeated eye blinking to uncontrolled vocal and physical outbursts.
But many cases go undiagnosed, and there are many misconceptions about the disorder.
“Things like,” Why can’t you stop it? ” … So it has to be something you do on purpose, ”said Dr. Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, a New York City neurologist.
Also: “The misconception that it’s all about swearing and, you know, doing inappropriate behavior that can affect some people with tics and Tourette, but not all,” she said.
Among those who have this disease, there are various histories of struggles.
For years, Tourette’s team took over the life of Alex Brown. He had a severe case called coprolalia. He said he could not go to school, and for five or six years his family was “doing nothing” because of the disorder.
“We didn’t go out to eat. We didn’t go to church, ”he said. “We returned home. We were completely cut off. ”
His tics ranged from “anything you can think of” – from opening the car door to touching the stove while someone was cooking in his house.
“I was just walking by and just touching a hot stove,” said Brown. “I would scream really, really loud to the point where I can’t, can’t sing now because my vocal cords have been stretched so much.”
His symptoms were extreme enough that he was able to undergo deep brain stimulation. During treatment, wires go into deep structures in the brain that are involved in the tic-producing circuits to try to provide relief. The procedure is often used in patients with Parkinson’s disease, but is increasingly effective in controlling severe Tourette.
Brown called the procedure “liberating and magical” and was eventually able to pass the CPA exam and live a normal life.
“I work at work,” he said. “I can do what I want, just like any other person.”
There are medications that can also help with Tourette’s syndrome, but like all medications, side effects can occur.
This is what police officer Craig Elgin experienced. He recently went to the hospital after prescription side effects caused him anxiety and nightmares. But his medications have since been phased out and his condition has improved since then.
The 37-year-old told CBS News that his Tourette didn’t bother him, although he did get “a little uncomfortable” at times. Even with persistent symptoms, he functions quite normally, serving his community as a police officer in the Milaca, Minnesota Police Department.
He said social media where he can open up about his condition is his “therapy”. He is known on Instagram as Tourette’s Cop and has gathered over 150,000 people.
This is how I met him. ANDand have tics of the nose, tongue and neck – often from stress.
“The thing is, you know you have Tourette’s syndrome and you can still be normal and make noises,” said Elgin.
The exact cause of Tourette’s syndrome is unknown.
“We know there’s probably a strong genetic component,” said Dr. Jimenez-Shahed. She said new research related to environmental exposure was forthcoming.
“So things that could have happened to a person’s mother, perhaps while pregnant,” she said. “Other … psychosocial characteristics that may influence the manifestation.”
“So in that sense it is a very complex disorder,” she added.
Many cases are mild.
For example, reporter Kelsey Christensen was able to control her Tourette enough to successfully appear on TV – without looking like she had a Tourette. In addition to the camera, you can see that he is constantly blinking his eyes.
It was only recently diagnosed. But an Emmy-winning reporter from KSTP-TV called the diagnosis “explaining and comforting because I know why I do what I do.”
She doesn’t think her condition is a big problem. Neither I.
The media helped. Tourette’s has long been an easy target, neglected in popular culture. But in recent years, the media has created conversations that have raised awareness about the disorder.
In a recent interview with David Letterman, singer Billie Eilish experienced a tic in front of the camera.
“If you film me long enough, you’ll see a lot of ticks,” she said.
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