Cognitive Performance After a One-Year Multidisciplinary Intensive Rehabilitation Program for Huntington's Disease: An Observational Study

J Huntingtons Dis. 2018;7(4):379-389. doi: 10.3233/JHD-180294.


Background: Studies of physical therapy and multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs for Huntington's disease (HD) have shown improvements in gait function, balance, and physical quality of life. There is a gap in the literature on effects of cognitive interventions and the potential to improve cognitive performance.

Objective: To assess changes in cognitive performance among patients with early to middle stage HD as secondary analyses from a one-year multidisciplinary rehabilitation program. The program included cognitive stimulation as a non-specific cognitive intervention in addition to physical interventions.

Methods: A one-year rehabilitation program that included comprehensive neuropsychological assessments was completed by 31 out 37 participants with early to middle stages of HD. Socio-demographic and clinical information was recorded. A battery of neuropsychological tests was used to measure cognitive functions before and after the intervention. Descriptive statistics was used for sample characteristics. Paired sample t-tests and nonparametric Wilcoxon Signed ranked tests were used to compare cognitive measures at both time points.

Results: Scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) were significantly lower post intervention. There were no significant differences in all other measures. Scores on the Stroop color naming and California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II) long-term delayed recall tasks showed tendencies towards lower scores post intervention.

Conclusions: An intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation program for patients with HD was generally well tolerated and feasible, with no indication of negative effects on cognition. Neuropsychological measures overall remained stable following an intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation program, however continued progression of cognitive impairment was evident on the SDMT, suggesting that disease progression is not halted. Randomized controlled trials are needed to verify these findings.

Keywords: Huntington’s disease; cognition; multidisciplinary; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology
  • Huntington Disease / psychology
  • Huntington Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Patient Care Team
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Speech Therapy