Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes people to have uncontrollable tics. Tics can be repetitive movements and sounds that could include repetitive blinking to bursting out offensive words. This condition, on average, first appears in 6-year-old children but can appear at any point in childhood from ages 2-15. However, as it is probably not common knowledge, symptoms of Tourette syndrome may persist in adults and some patients are formally diagnosed only later in life. Even though only a fraction of these patients needs pharmacological therapy in adulthood, these patients may experience problems with the transition of care from the pediatric settings.


There are different types of tics that a person could exhibit. Some of the most common are listed below:

  • Simple – Brief and include only parts of the body
  • Complex – Includes different body parts and can be displayed in a pattern
  • Motor – Tic movements of the body such as shoulder shrugs or blinking
  • Vocal – Sounds made using their voice such as yelling or humming


A diagnosis will be made by the child’s pediatrician or family provider based on the child’s history. The provider may order blood tests and imaging to rule out any other cause before providing a final diagnosis. Some factors that can affect the risks of developing this condition include a family history of Tourette diagnosis, in addition to males being three to four times more likely to develop this as well. You will work with your provider to develop the best plan of care, as there is not a cure for Tourette syndrome. Some treatment options are available, including:

  • Medication
  • BOTOX® injections
  • ADHD medication
  • Antiseizure medication
  • Therapy – behavioral or psychotherapy

If you believe someone you may know has Tourette syndrome and is undiagnosed, encourage them to speak to their primary care provider or neurologists at UofL Physicians – Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. We provide comprehensive care and we also perform surgical therapy (DBS) for adult patients in our Movement Disorders clinic.

If you or someone you know needs a primary care provider, let one of our many experts be a part of your care team. Visit to find a primary care provider that is right for you.

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Article by: Peter Hedera, M.D., Ph.D.

Peter Hedera, M.D., Ph.D. is a board-certified neurologist and medical geneticist who specializes in the management and treatment of movement disorders. His clinical interests include surgical therapies for Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia, and botulinum toxin procedures for dystonia and spasticity. He has 21 years of experience in the field of movement disorders and neurogenetic conditions. Dr. Hedera earned his medical degree from the Medical School of Ian Amos Comenius University in Czechoslovakia before completing an internship at St. Luke's Medical Center. He then went on to complete a residency in Medical Genetics and Neurology and a fellowship in Neurogenetics/Movement Disorders at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He is certified by both the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Medical Genetics. Dr. Hedera is a professor in the department of Neurology as well as the Raymond Lee Lebby Endowed Chair of Parkinson’s Disease Research Director of the Movement Disorders Program. He has been awarded the 1999 Founder's Award of the American Academy of Neurology. "My goal is to provide state-of-the-art care for patients with neurologic movement disorders with compassionate service and shared-decision philosophy."

All posts by Peter Hedera, M.D., Ph.D.
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