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Tourette Syndrome Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The disorder is commonly called Tourette syndrome (TS).
The early symptoms of TS are almost always noticed first in childhood, with the average onset between the ages of 7 and 10 years. TS occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more often than females. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of TS, and as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics or transient tics of childhood. Although TS can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst symptoms in their early teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood. Examples of Common Simple Motor Tics
Simple motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements that involve a limited number of muscle groups.
Eye blinking and other vision irregularities
Head or shoulder jerking.
Simple vocalizations might include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds. Examples of Complex Motor Tics
Facial grimacing combined with a head twist and a shoulder shrug.
Sniffing or touching objects, hopping, jumping, bending, or twisting.
Simple vocal tics may include throat-clearing, sniffing/snorting, grunting, or barking. More complex vocal tics include words or phrases. Although the cause of TS is unknown, current research points to abnormalities in certain brain regions (including the basal ganglia, frontal lobes, and cortex), the circuits that interconnect these regions, and the neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) responsible for communication among nerve cells. Given the often complex presentation of TS, the cause of the disorder is likely to be equally complex. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. www.ninds.nih.gov LifeART Collection Images Copyright © 1989-2001 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD