Tourette Syndrome Clinic
The Massachusetts General Hospital Tourette Syndrome Clinic is a specialized multidisciplinary clinic and regional referral center for adult and pediatric patients with Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders.
Our clinic takes a team approach to treating Tourette's syndrome and related disorders. Working closely with Mass General's world-class Department of Psychiatry enables us to treat all aspects of the patient's condition(s). When we encounter particularly challenging cases, we can consult with the other subspecialist physicians from the Movement Disorders Unit. (Composed of four specialized clinics, this unit cares for patients with a variety of movement disorders.)
In addition, we work with MassGeneral Hospital for Children to care for pediatric patients.
Treatment Tailored to Patient Needs
Our treatment approach depends on many factors, including the patient's:
- Severity of symptoms
- Co-occurring conditions
- Preference for pharmacological and/or behavioral treatments
Every plan begins with education on topics such as disease management and impact on school or work function.
For many patients, symptoms can be managed through education alone or with behavioral treatments. When medications are necessary, we maximize effectiveness and safety through carefully prescribing and monitoring practices.
Additionally, we tailor ongoing treatment to each patient's needs. Some patients visit us monthly, while others come once a year. Some patients rely on us for all treatment for Tourette's syndrome; for others, we consult with their local pediatrician/primary care doctor, psychiatrist or neurologist. In all cases, our goal is to improve quality of life through successful symptom management.
What to Expect
If you are a new patient, you must receive a referral from your primary care physician, psychiatrist or neurologist before scheduling a consultation with our clinic. Prior to your first visit, we'll send you a packet of information to complete and return to us.
Please also send copies of all previous assessments (e.g. neurological, psychiatric, neuropsychological, psychoeducational). We need to review this information in advance to ensure we have time to address all of your specific issues during your one-hour consultation.
At your first visit, you'll undergo a thorough medical, developmental and family evaluation. Included is a comprehensive assessment of tic symptoms along with screening for common co-occurring conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Usually, we can make a diagnosis and generate a comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment plan on the first visit or soon thereafter. We often collaborate with Mass General psychiatrists, psychologists and/or neuropsychologists in this effort.
Pioneering Research Efforts
Our clinic's research focuses on uncovering the underlying causes of Tourette's syndrome and developing the next generation of treatments and interventions.
The Mass General Center for Human Genetic Research is part of the Tourette Syndrome Association International Consortium for Genetics, which is working to identify the genes that may be responsible for Tourette's syndrome. If you are a patient with Tourette's syndrome and would like information about participating in this important study, contact project director Cornelia Illmann, PhD.
Mass General hosts a number of ongoing clinical trials involving Tourette's syndrome and related disorders..
One of the few dedicated Tourette's syndrome clinics in New England, we see about 75 to 100 new cases each year, including patients who are referred here due to the complexity of their cases.
Truly Comprehensive Care
People with Tourette's syndrome and related disorders may experience symptoms ranging from mild, non-impairing motor and vocal tics to severe, complex tics and behaviors that markedly interfere with functioning and quality of life. We excel in managing care for patients no matter where they fall across this spectrum of symptom severity.
It's important to understand that Tourette's syndrome lies in the border zone between neurology and psychiatry. As a result, patients often receive care from one specialty or the other—but not the coordinated care they need.
Our clinic bridges this gap by taking a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating and supporting patients. Clinic director Jeremiah Scharf, MD, PhD, received fellowship training in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry along with subspecialty training in Tourette's syndrome. We also work closely with our colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry, who offer both psychiatric management and behavioral therapy services.
Frequently, we also diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in patients. In these cases, we focus on the most troublesome symptoms and create a treatment plan that addresses Tourette's syndrome and all related conditions together.
Expertise in Treating Tourette's Syndrome
Founded in 2006, the Tourette Syndrome Clinic is part of the Mass General Movement Disorders Unit. Our staff comprises:
- Dr. Scharf: A board-certified neurologist, Dr. Scharf is a member of the Tourette Syndrome Association International Genetics Consortium, a group of clinicians and researchers working together to uncover genetic links to Tourette's syndrome. He is also affiliated with the Mass General Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic and Research Unit, which conducts clinical trials for Tourette's syndrome and OCD.
- Lisa Paul, RN, NP: A board-certified family nurse practitioner, Lisa works collaboratively with Dr. Scharf to evaluate and manage patient concerns. She also educates the parents and teachers of children with Tourette's syndrome about this and related disorders. In addition, she is available to support parents in setting up modified educational plans to help their children overcome learning obstacles.
- Trisha Multhaupt-Buell, BS, MS: Trisha specializes in genetic counseling for a variety of neurological disorders, including Tourette's syndrome. She is available for consultation for individuals or families with concerns about the genetics of Tourette's syndrome and related conditions.
ADHD, also called attention-deficit disorder, is a behavior disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an unreasonable thought, fear, or worry that he or she tries to manage through a ritualized activity to reduce the anxiety.
The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.
The Neurology Service at Mass General offers Continuing Medical Education through Harvard Medical School.
Tourette Syndrome ClinicWang Ambulatory Care Center
7th Floor, Room 720
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114
Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes
Jeremiah Scharf, MD, PhD
Mailcode: WACC 7-720
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
Clinical CoordinatorAmy C. Leary
The Tourette Syndrome weekly clinic is usually on Wednesday afternoons.