Kansas City,
15:22 PM

Kansas City Star: Kids with Tourette syndrome now have more answers

by Andy Marso

When former Kansas City Royal Jim Eisenreich was a kid, he didn’t know he had Tourette syndrome, or even what Tourette syndrome was. All he knew was that he was different, because his body would twitch, grunt and sniff spontaneously. And he didn’t know what that meant for his future.

The story of Eisenreich overcoming Tourette to return to the baseball field as an adult is well-known. But last week he opened up with new details about what it was like to grow up with Tourette in the 1960s and 1970s, and how much things have changed for kids growing up with it now, especially in Kansas City.

Since 2014 the Tourette Association of America has designated nine hospitals across the country as Centers of Excellence for advancing the care, research and education of Tourette and other tic disorders. Children’s Mercy Kansas City was added last year, becoming the association’s first center of excellence in the Midwest and the only one at a children’s hospital.


The nine-member Tourette team at Children’s Mercy includes neurologists, a psychiatrist, a family therapist and other professionals.

Keith Coffman, a neurologist and the co-director of the Tourette Syndrome Center at Children’s Mercy, said there’s still a widespread misconception that Tourette is a condition marked by involuntary profanity, which happens in 10 percent of cases or less. But it’s changing.

“That’s part of why the Centers (of Excellence) were created, to help change the public perception of Tourette so people who blink their eyes and clear their throats all the time are really the face of Tourette as opposed to what comedy movies have used for years to depict Tourette,” Coffman said.


Coffman said when he started practicing medicine about 15 years ago, the rate of Tourette and other tic disorders was believed to be about three people per thousand. It’s now about one person per hundred, due to better recognition of it.

He and co-director Bob Batterson, a psychiatrist, said much more is known about the neurological and hereditary components of Tourette and the strong correlation between Tourette and psychological conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


Read the full article via The Kansas City Star.

Learn more about the Tourette Syndrome Center at Children's Mercy.

Read more about the services offered through the Division of Neurology at Children's Mercy.