WiRED Creates Huntington’s Disease Module in Memory of Ronald Thomas MacDonald


WiRED International now offers a health learning module on Huntington’s disease.


Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited progressive brain disease that causes cells to die in various parts of the brain. HD affects a person’s functional abilities and usually results in cognitive, psychiatric and movement disorders.


People are born with the defective gene, but symptoms usually do not appear until middle age. When a parent has HD, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the HD gene mutation, which inevitably leads to the disease.


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WiRED’s HD Module describes the disease, its causes, symptoms and signs, diagnosis and testing, treatment and complications.


Although the disease is not fatal per se, people with HD die most often from pneumonia, heart disease, infection and injury from falls. Also, HD victims often feel suicidal because of the cruel deterioration of the mind and body from the condition.


Genetic testing demonstrates whether a person has the HD gene, but no treatment is available to stop or reverse the course of the disease. WiRED encourages you to study its HD Module to get educated about HD.


This module is offered to the global community in memory of Ronald Thomas MacDonald.



You can download the module in this story, and all 400+ of WiRED’s health modules, through WiRED’s Health Module Access Program (HealthMAP) by clicking here. This easy-to-use free program will enable you to create your own customized collection of health learning modules. You can learn more about HealthMAP through WiRED's animation.



Ronald Thomas McDonald


Ronald Thomas MacDonald was an engaging man, father of two, veteran of the U.S. Army, volunteer firefighter and valuable member of his local community. He was stricken with Huntington’s disease early in life and succumbed to it at the age of 50. WiRED’s module is dedicated to his memory.





Quiz Questions from WiRED’s Huntington’s Disease Module

1. The common age of onset of Huntington's disease is _________ years.

 a. 25 to 30  b. 35 to 40
 c. 35 to 44  d. 45 to 55

2. Persons with the adult-onset form of HD usually live about _______ years after signs and symptoms begin.

 a. 3 to 5  b. 5 to 8
 c. 10 to 12  d. 15 to 20

3. True or false: Some people with Huntington’s disease stop recognizing family members.

 True  False

4. Becoming rigid and moving very little, or not at all, is a condition called _____________.

 a. Kinesthesis  b. Kineticism
 c. Akinesia  d. Chorea


Facts about HD


  1. HD is a dominant disorder, which means that a person can develop the disease after inheriting a gene from just one parent.
  2. When a parent has HD, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the HD gene mutation, which inevitably leads to the disease.
  3. If a child does not inherit the HD mutation, he or she will not develop the disease and cannot pass it to subsequent generations.
  4. HD affects an estimated three to seven per 100,000 people of European ancestry.
  5. HD was first described by physician George Huntington in 1872.
  6. The HD gene was identified in 1993, which led to a test that can predict who will develop the disease.
  7. The most famous person to suffer and die from HD was the folk singer Woody Guthrie.