Affecting as many as 300,000 children (around one in 160) in the United States, Tourette syndrome is often underrecognized and can be complicated by anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.
At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. David Isaacs, an adult neurologist, and Dr. Heather Riordan, a pediatric neurologist, have assembled a multidisciplinary team that is seeking designation as a Center of Excellence for Tourette syndrome. Their goal is to provide comprehensive, personalized care for pediatric and adult patients.
The center will have multiple emphases: ensuring patients have broad treatment options, including non-pharmacologic interventions; conducting research that identifies markers for new therapeutic avenues; and offering multidisciplinary resources to ensure comprehensive care.
Isaacs says for most patients, symptoms attenuate greatly by around 18 years old. But for about one-third, symptoms persist into adulthood, and for them, there is often additional dropout in support from the healthcare system.
“Many of the adult patients I see with Tourette syndrome have struggled to find appropriate resources because it is often considered a pediatric syndrome. Adult patients can find themselves in a kind of ‘no-man’s land,’ with few providers who treat the complex of conditions they often face.”
Dr. Isaac’s hope is that achieving the Center of Excellence designation for Tourette syndrome will attract adult patients who may have given up long ago. “We want to show them that it’s not too late to address their tics and psychiatric comorbidities and to start feeling better.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 10