Rani Mukerji is back on the silver screen with her latest movie, Hichki, in which she plays a teacher ridden with a disorder called ‘Tourette Syndrome’. While involuntary winking and grimacing are often seen as a comic gesture and socially inappropriate swear words and sexual abuses are frowned upon, it turns out that the patients with Tourette Syndrome have no control over these and are often mocked for their actions. To shed some light on the subject, we asked some experts what the disorder is all about.
What is Tourette Syndrome?
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder in which a patient has repetitive and stereotyped involuntary movements and vocalisations called tics. Facial grimacing, arm jerking, grunting and sniffing are some of the involuntary movements one is liable to make.
Named after Dr Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French noblewoman, there are two types of tics characterised in TS–motor and vocal tics.
What are the symptoms of TS?
The symptoms of TS are observed in early adulthood, and present themselves in the form of motor and vocal/phonic tics, according to Dr PR Krishnan, consultant neurologist, Fortis Hospital. Reportedly, more males suffer from TS than females and the worst effects are felt during the teenage years.
What are motor tics?
The word motor implies movement and motor tics refer to the movements one makes as a result of TS. Jaw movements, head bobbing, neck stretching, shoulder shrugging, making purposeful motions like sexual intercourse movements, hopping, jumping or twirling are the characteristics of motor tics.
What are vocal tics?
Vocal or phonic tics produce a sound. They may involve mild sounds like sniffing, throat clearing, hooting, grunting and shouting, or in complex cases, swear words, ethnic slurs and inappropriate words are often reported.
Catch a snippet of Rani Mukerji’s take on TS here.
What is the cause of TS?
TS is a complex disorder and its exact cause is not known. It can be due to genetic or inherited factors as an individual is more likely to have TS if there is a family history, according to a report published by Mayo Clinic.
Other reasons could be low birth weight, cord wrapped around the neck or smoking and drinking by the mother during pregnancy, says Dr PN Renjen, senior consultant, neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Here’s a video of Ryan Stevens, one of the patients of TS, who shares his battle with the disorder.
What is the treatment for TS?
TS does not respond well to medication, says Dr Renjen who uses one of the common drugs, called Haloperidol to treat the condition. Besides medication, he advises psycho-therapy as a lot of behavioural changes are associated with this disorder.
Some of the famous names with TS you might know
Dr Renjen says TS need not necessarily have an effect on a person’s IQ and while some patients are mentally slow, others can be very intelligent. Some of the famous names who have had the condition include legendary composers Beethoven and Mozart, football player David Beckham, and Dr Samuel Johnson, the 18th century English author.