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Huntington Disease


Huntington disease is named for physician George Huntington, who described the illness in an 1872 paper titled "On Chorea." Huntington practiced medicine on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. His description of the disease was drawn from his familiarity with several affected families in his community. Both Huntington's father and grandfather had practiced medicine in the same area. Their encounters with the disease gave Huntington an appreciation of the heredity aspect of the illness.

Historically, the mental and emotional deterioration that marks the illness has frequently led to the confinement of Huntington disease patients to psychiatric hospitals. Some historians speculate that a few of the women accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts may have exhibited the involuntary twitches and turns that are hallmarks of the disease.

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