Explore This Treatment Program

Overview

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 Pediatric Tourette & Tic Disorders Clinic to care for pediatric patients.

Treatment Tailored to Patient Needs

Our treatment approach depends on many factors, including the patient's:

  • Age
  • 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 Genomic Medicine 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. Browse online for open trials.

Truly Comprehensive Care

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.

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.