Researchers Seek Children With Chronic Motor Tics or Tourette Syndrome
The Child OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders Program at UCLA's Semel Institute seeks children and adolescents ages 9-17 with chronic motor tics or Tourette syndrome for a multisite study of non-medication treatments.
Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to habit reversal training or psychoeducation plus supportive therapy for up to nine months at no cost. For more information, call Michelle Rozenman at (310) 825-0122.
The study is conducted in conjunction with the Tourette Syndrome Association and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The principal investigator is John Piacentini, director of the program and professor-in-residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute at UCLA.
Other sites involved in the study include Harvard, Yale and Johns Hopkins universities.
Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders are characterized by repetitive, involuntary muscle movements (motor tics) and/or repetitive, involuntary vocalizations (vocal tics). Common tics include eye-blinking, grimacing, shoulder shrugs, throat-clearing, sniffing and grunting.
Tics are quite common in childhood, with up to 13 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls manifesting frequent tic-like behaviors. Eventhough chronic tic disorders such as Tourette syndrome are much less common, they can be associated with a variety of other problems in childhood including aggression, impulsive behaviors, attention problems, mood disturbances and poor social skills. Unchecked, chronic tic disorders can disrupt a child's social interactions and family relationships.
The most common treatments for tic disorders include medication and either psychoeducation plus supportive psychotherapy or a form of behavior therapy called habit reversal training. Habit reversal training involves teaching youngsters to monitor tic urges and systematically engage in a new and different muscle behavior whenever these urges occur.
Psychoeducation involves training patients to manage stress, anger and school or family .
issues. Since tics often worsen in stressful situations, stress management techniques are used to help patients cope. In addition, reward charts help children track their progress and earn small rewards for treatment gains.
The most common medications for chronic tics and Tourette syndrome include Haloperidol, Pimozide, Guanfacine and Clonidine. Newer medications such as Risperdal and Zypexa, as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Luvox and Zoloft also are used in some cases. Eventhough a number of of the anti-tic medications can be effective in decreasing tic severity, potential side effects often complicate their use in children and adolescents.
The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is an interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior, including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior, and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to conducting fundamental research, the institute faculty seeks to develop effective treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders, improve access to mental health services, and shape national health policy regarding neuropsychiatric disorders.
More information is available online at http://www.npi.ucla.edu/ and http://www.npi.ucla.edu/caap/Default.htm.