Byron Health Center Hosts Huntington’s Disease Support Group

Byron Health Center continues to host a monthly ‘open’ support group for those affected with Huntington’s Disease (HD), as well as their family and friends. The next meeting is Thursday, May 4th, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Any members of the community who have, or who have been affected by, HD are invited to attend the support group held on the Byron Health Center campus at 12101 Lima Rd in Fort Wayne in the Eakin Family Room. The monthly support group meetings will continue throughout 2017 on the first Thursday of each month including: June 1st, July 6th, August 3rd September 7th, October 5th, November 2nd and December 7th.

Byron Health Center has partnered with the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) and the Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences at the University of Saint Francis to make the support group possible for the northeast Indiana area. Information will also be shared on the IU Health HD Education Day in Indianapolis coming up on May 13th as well as the 32nd annual HDSA National Convention in Chicago coming up June 22nd – 24th. Dr. John J. Brinkman, Ph.D., HSPP, Chair of the Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences at the University of Saint Francis, who usually moderates the support group, can be reached via phone at 260-399-7700 ext. 8425 or via email at jbrinkman . He will again pass the moderation reigns to University of Saint Francis grad student, Adam Gayer, for the month of May to complete a special Art Therapy project with the group.

HD is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease. Many describe the symptoms of HD as having ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – simultaneously. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 30 to 50, and worsen over a 10 to 25 year period. Ultimately, the weakened individual succumbs to pneumonia, heart failure or other complications. Everyone has the gene that causes HD, but only those that inherit the expansion of the gene will develop HD and perhaps pass it on to each of their children. Every person who inherits the expanded HD gene will eventually develop the disease. Over time, HD affects the individual’s ability to reason, walk and speak. More information about HD can be found at http://hdsa.org/what-is-hd/ .

HDSA is the premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. From community services and education to advocacy and research, HDSA is the world’s leader in providing help for today and hope for tomorrow for people with Huntington’s disease and their families.