ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Twitching, verbal outbursts, involuntary repetitive movements, and sounds. These are the symptoms of Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder that tends to affect boys more often than girls. But Ivanhoe has details on why doctors are now seeing more teen girls with tics and what parents can do.
“Eye blinking, maybe a sniffing or a throat clearing,” stated David Isaacs, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
These are some of the tics associated with Tourette syndrome, a neurological condition that is three times more common in boys than in girls. However, medical experts have been seeing a rise in functional tic disorders in teen girls and they’re linking the increase to the popular social media site, Tik Tok. Doctors at UCLA typically see one to two cases linked to social media a year. That number has swelled to ten to 15 per month. Johns Hopkins University’s Tourette’s Center numbers have also gone up from two to three percent of pediatric patients a year ago, to ten to 20 percent. But Tik Tok may not be the sole cause.
“Many have cormid diagnoses and things like PTSD or other kinds of perhaps remote trauma,” continued Dr. Isaacs.
According to the CDC, five in six kids with chronic tics have another mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Experts say parents can seek out a specialist as well as encourage kids to do physical activities, such as sports and yoga that involve their mind and body working together. Also have your kids stay away from Tik Tok for several weeks. Early intervention can reduce or even eliminate the symptoms.
According to medical experts, the patients that doctors are seeing now have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression that was exacerbated by the pandemic, causing some patients to mimic the physical symptoms of psychological stress they have seen in others, such as their tics.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
TIK TOK TICS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
BACKGROUND: Tourette syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that can’t be easily controlled. Movements like blinking your eyes, shrugging your shoulders, or blurting out unusual sounds or offensive words. Tics typically show up between ages two and 15, with the average being around six years of age. Males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome. There is currently no cure for Tourette syndrome, however treatments are available. Many people don’t need treatment when symptoms aren’t troublesome. Tics often lessen or become controlled after the teen years. Before the onset of motor or vocal tics, one may experience an uncomfortable bodily sensation such as an itch, a tingle, or tension. Expression of the tic brings relief. Some people are able to temporarily stop or hold back a tic when they feel the sensation coming on.
TICS RESULTING FROM TIK TOK: Teens experiencing sudden-onset tics do not have Tourette syndrome, even if the behavior seems similar. Studies show that they’re experiencing a movement disorder brought on by stress and anxiety which has been caused by the pandemic and teens increased social media consumption. “These tics are a complex way for the brain to release overwhelming stress,” explains pediatric neurologist Mohammed Aldosari, MD. “Essentially, their brains express an emotional stressor as a physical disorder.” Teens who are prone to depression and anxiety are most likely to develop this condition. And teenage girls are more likely to have depression and anxiety than teenage boys. Parents can be reassured by the knowledge that this is now a known medical issue and there is nothing physically wrong with the brain. While people with Tourette syndrome frequently benefit from using medications when behavioral therapy alone is not helpful, teens with Tik Tok-induced tics will benefit more from therapy.
NEW TREATMENT HOPE FOR TOURETTE SYNDROME: New research has found that delivering electrical pulses to the wrist can significantly reduce the amount and severity of tics experienced by individuals with Tourette Syndrome (TS). Scientists from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology and School of Medicine used repetitive trains of stimulation to the median nerve (MNS) at the wrist to produce rhythmic electrical brain activity, known as brain-oscillations, associated with the suppression of movements. Nineteen people with TS took part in this study and were observed for random 1-minute periods, during which they were given constant rhythmic pulses of the MNS to their right wrist, and 1-minute periods during which they received no stimulation. In all cases the stimulation reduced the tics, and the urge to tic, and had the most significant effect on those individuals with the most severe tics. This breakthrough could change individual’s mental stability in life and confidence. Barbara Morera Maiquez, lead author on this study, said, “Our aim is to develop a wearable MNS stimulator that looks like an Apple watch or Fitbit and can be used by the individual outside of the clinic as and when they need to control their tics.”
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