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Movement Disorders

Miami Valley Hospital’s specialists diagnose and treat movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonias. Treatment options range from medication to surgery, including advanced therapies such as deep brain stimulation.

Our goal is to offer care to patients with movement disorders and their loved ones to help them meet the physical, social and emotional challenges of their disease. Our team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurology nurse specialists, dedicated neuroscience social workers and occupational and physical therapists are dedicated to improving our patients’ quality of life and minimizing the effects of their condition. 

Diagnosing Movement Disorders

Movement disorders are a group of conditions that interfere with the normal control of movement. Although they don’t usually affect thinking or memory, they can be extremely debilitating, causing major disability and reducing quality of life. The most common conditions in this category are:

  • Essential tremor: The most common type of movement disorder occurs to some degree in as many as 40 percent of adults older than 40. It is more common as we age, and is very commonly inherited. Symptoms of essential tremor may include rhythmic, fine action movement of your arms, hands, head, jaw or trunk, and possibly voice quivering, that usually occurs with action and movement, rather than when you are at rest.
  • Parkinson’s disease: This neurological disorder develops when the dopamine-producing brain cells no longer manufacture this important substance, which promotes normal brain function. Symptoms may include resting tremor, stiffness, slowness and balance problems, including falls.
  • Dystonia: This condition of the central nervous system causes involuntary muscle contractions. These movements often cause muscle tension, pulling, twisting and contortion of the arms, legs, head and neck, and/or face. Dystonia has many different causes and can affect both children and adults.

These conditions can be challenging to tell apart from each other, and each requires a different treatment. Miami Valley’s knowledgeable, experienced specialists work with these disorders every day and can help identify and correctly treat these conditions. Our team includes:

  • Neurologists 
  • Neurosurgeons 
  • Neurophysiologists 
  • Occupational and physical therapists 
  • Social workers

Diagnosing Essential Tremor

Familial or essential tremor is a diagnosis made by a neurologist based on a detailed history and physical examination. Usually, no other test is required. An image such as a CT scan or an MRI scan of the brain may be helpful.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease and several other movement disorders have similar symptoms. The neurologist’s experience is critical for an accurate diagnosis, because a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders is made clinically and often does not require laboratory or imaging tests to confirm it. Miami Valley Hospital’s neurologists understand that differentiating among these disorders and establishing the correct diagnosis is essential to successful treatment.

The diagnostic process starts with a detailed interview with the patient and family and a thorough physical examination. Tests the doctor may order to help with the diagnosis include: 

*Offered at Miami Valley Hospital and Miami Valley Hospital

Parkinson's Disease Clinical Trials

Participating in a clinical trial is an invaluable way to get involved in the pursuit of finding a cure or improving the quality of life for those with Parkinson's disease. Premier Health and Wright State University participate in an international study group - Parkinson's Study Group (PSG), for groundbreaking trials. 

PSG is the largest not-for-profit network of Parkinson centers in North America. Clinics participating in the group have played a vital role in bringing some of the most innovative drugs to market. Many of these medications have had significant impact upon changing the course of the neurological disease. 

Patients who participate in the Parkinson's Study group trials will have access to medications that may have not hit the market yet. In addition, the trials cover all associated costs including medication, clinical visits, laboratory tests, and neuroimaging. 

For more information about the clinical trials, contact the Clinical Neuroscience Institute, (844) 277-2894(844) 277-2894.

Diagnosing Dystonia

Diagnosis starts with a complete medical history, including any family history of dystonia, previous head injury or stroke, or exposure to toxins or drugs. Other tests may include:

  • Electromyography to measure the electrical activity within muscles
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans 

Treatment of Movement Disorders 

Medication is the foundation of treatment for movement disorders. For Parkinson’s disease, the goal is to help the brain make more of the chemical dopamine which is lost in the disease, help slow the loss of brain cells, mimic the function of dopamine or improve the function of other brain centers affected by the loss of dopamine.

Treating Essential Tremor

Many people with essential or familial tremor respond well to several classes of medications. 

Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Medications work very well for many people with Parkinson's and improve their quality of life dramatically. Unfortunately the drugs may have debilitating side effects, but these can be limited much better than in years past. Generally,patients will continue to use an effective medication until developing drug resistance. Then the neurologist will recommend a different medication. Patients may need a combination of medications taken on a precise schedule to achieve results.  Premier Health offers Duopa infusion therapy for patients with advanced Parkinson's disease.

Treating Dystonias

For people with dystonias, oral medications and injections of botulinum into specific muscles may reduce or eliminate muscle contractions and improve quality of life. Physical and speech therapy also may be helpful.

For all of these conditions, if medications fail to effectively control symptoms or if medication side effects become intolerable, deep brain stimulation (surgery) may be an option (see below). At this time, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor or dystonia. Stem cells and similar therapies offer hope for the future but remain unproven.

Deep Brain Stimulation (Surgery)

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is surgery to relieve many of the most disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia. DBS involves the surgical implantation of a device called a neurostiumulator, similar to a heart pacemaker. Electrical impulses (referred to as stimulation) can have a positive effect on tremor, stiffness, slowness, dyskinesia, medication wearing off and some types of walking problems. 

Patients who are good candidates for DBS will have many laboratory and imaging tests, including a CT or MRI scan. These imaging tests are done to help the surgeon pinpoint exact what part of the brain is responsible for the tremor and movement disorder symptoms. The images will be used to help the surgeon place the lead in the brain during surgery. Patients might have to see more than one specialist (neurologist, neurosurgeon, psychologist, etc.) to make sure that the procedure is right for them and has the best chances of success.

The patient is awake for part of the surgery and asleep with anesthesia for another part. The surgical procedure takes place in an operating room and typically involves:

  • Placement of a special frame to hold the head still 
  • Mapping the target area in the brain, while the patient is awake and participating 
  • Implanting the wires and pacemaker while the patient is asleep under anesthesia 
  • Follow-up visits to the neurologist for programming the pacemaker and adjusting medications 

Like medication, surgery only treats symptoms of the disease. Most patients who have surgery need to continue taking some medication to get the best results.

Your Movement Disorders Team

Our specialists use their extensive training and experience to help patients and their loved ones manage movement disorders. Our specially trained nurses and physical, occupational and speech therapists collaborate with our physicians to ensure patients receive personalized, compassionate care. Find a Physician.

Learn About Treatments for Movement Disorders

Premier Health Library

The Premier Health Library offers a wealth of information about treatments for movement disorders and neurosciences. Learn about conditions, treatments, how to prepare for a surgery, and much more.

Content Updated: January 2, 2018

These Miami Valley Hospital locations offer Neurosciences Services.
Neurosciences at Miami Valley Hospital
One Wyoming St. Dayton, OH  45409
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