Types of Movement Disorders
The term "movement disorder" describes a neurological condition that affects how your body moves. Parkinson's disease is the most recognized movement disorder, but other disorders cause stiffness, involuntary muscle contractions or tremors, twitches and tics.
In addition to Parkinson's disease, our neurologists treat:
- Atypical parkinsonism (including multiple system atrophy (MSA), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal ganglionic degeneration (CBGD)
- Huntington's disease
- Essential tremor
- Restless leg syndrome
Pediatric Movement Disorders
Parkinson's disease is generally diagnosed in older adults, but children can be affected by other movement disorders. At Novant Health, our pediatric neurologists provide expert care for dystonia, Tourette's syndrome and other pediatric movement disorders, including epilepsy symptoms.
What Is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that affects your ability to walk or perform fine motor skills. This occurs when your nerve cells that make dopamine die or stop functioning.
Tremors are the most common symptom, but this progressive disease also causes other muscular, physical and sensory issues. The early signs of Parkinson's disease often go unnoticed until they noticeably impact your movement, speech or writing abilities.
Parkinson's Disease Risk Factors
Males over 60 years of age are most likely to get Parkinson's disease. Early-onset Parkinson's disease is less common but can develop at any time during young adulthood. You have a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease if you have close relatives with the condition. Research has also shown that long-term exposure to certain pesticides and herbicides can increase the risk of developing the disorder.
Who Treats Movement Disorders?
Treatment for Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders typically starts with a neurologist. After assessing your condition, they may refer you to a movement disorder or Parkinson's specialist with advanced training and expertise in this specialized field.
Effects of Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease typically begins with a slight tremor on one side of your body. In the second stage of progression, the symptoms visibly impact both sides of the body. The third stage is characterized by a loss of balance and an increased reduction of physical capabilities. In stage four, assistance is needed to perform everyday activities. Patients in the final stage of Parkinson's disease cannot stand or walk and usually require full-time care.
Tremors, stiffness and slow movements are the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The symptoms may be barely noticeable at first but become severe over time. As the disease progresses and loss of balance and coordination occurs, you may experience falls and other injuries.
Additional symptoms include:
- Speech impairment
- Memory lapses
- Difficulty sleeping
- Skin conditions
- Loss of smell
- Trouble blinking or smiling
The Parkinson's Disease Journey
Parkinson's disease gets diagnosed through a physical exam, including an MRI or DaTscan study. If your physician determines that you have Parkinson's disease, they'll thoroughly explain the diagnosis, answer your questions and review your treatment options.
Creating a Personalized Care Plan
No two cases of Parkinson's disease are alike. Symptoms vary, as does how patients respond to treatment. You'll work with your physician to develop a personalized care plan designed around your symptoms, lifestyle and physical capabilities.
Support and Family Counseling
Parkinson's disease treatment combines medication, rehabilitation and counseling that helps you, your loved ones and caregivers manage the disease. Our goal is to provide treatment that reduces your symptoms, supports your mental health and improves your quality of life throughout your journey.
Treatment for Parkinson's Disease
Medications can effectively reduce the severity of symptoms. Various drugs are available specifically for movement-related signs, including medicines designed to replace dopamine or mimic its effects. Anti-depressants and dementia medications are also used frequently.
Physical, occupational and speech therapies are designed to help you adjust to changes in your ability to move and communicate. Your personalized treatment plan may include changes to your diet or lifestyle and adaptive/assistive devices that make it easier to sit, stand and move safely.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) treats tremors and stiffness. This surgical procedure involves embedding electrodes in your brain and a neurotransmitter under your skin near the collarbone. The neurotransmitter delivers continuous electrical pulses that allow smoother communication between brain cells to provide relief of symptoms.
Novant Health has pioneered availability of focused ultrasound using magnetic resonance (MR), which allows neurosurgeons to operate on the brain without making any incisions. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis without anesthesia and can provide immediate relief from hand tremors in those with Parkinson's disease.
During the procedure, your surgeon will use an MRI to pinpoint the location in the brain where a tremor originates and then apply a focused ultrasound beam without damaging any surrounding brain cells.
Incision-free Brain Surgery for Tremors
Watch as neurosurgeon Charles Munyon, MD, uses MR-guided focused ultrasound to alleviate in minutes tremors that had caused Bobby Lippard’s hands to shake for years.
The NHRMC ALS Clinic
If you have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), you can receive advanced, comprehensive and streamlined care at the ALS Clinic located at New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) in Wilmington, NC.
The NHRMC ALS Clinic can schedule you to meet with multiple members of your care team on the same day to save you and your family travel time and facilitate collaboration among the members of your care team.
Your NHRMC ALS Clinic Team
Your care team will be led by board-certified neurologists specializing in ALS treatment and include the following neuromuscular specialists:
- Respiratory therapists
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech therapists
- Registered dietitians
- Licensed clinical social workers
- ALS Association representatives
Representatives from mobility and durable medical equipment companies
Getting an Appointment
The New Hanover Regional Medical Center ALS Clinic is located at the Nunnelee Pediatric Multispecialty Care Center at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC.
If you are interested in making an appointment with our team, please speak with your current neurologist about making a referral to our clinic.