Movement disorders is an area in neurology that deals with complex movements such as walking, playing the piano or writing.
Movement disorders as a group is a very prevalent group of diseases. Within the U.S. there are half a million people with dystonia, a million people with Parkinson’s disease, and more if you include Parkinsonian diseases and about 10 million patients with essential tremor.
The care of movement disorders is highly individual. Each patient has to be evaluated in an ongoing fashion to decide the appropriate treatment regimen; whether that involves injections, medications, or a surgical procedure that gives the best effect for that individual patient.
Treatment for Parkinson’s disease includes medications to stimulate dopamine receptors. If medication is not effective, surgical treatments such as deep brain stimulation are an option. With deep brain stimulation an electrode is placed in the brain that is the target for dopamine. Typically, a patient is awake for deep brain stimulation; however, Brigham and Women’s Hospital offers asleep deep brain stimulation which allows a patient to remain asleep during the procedure.
Essential tremor is a degenerative disease that is difficult to treat. Deep brain stimulation is one treatment option. Another option is focused ultrasound which uses ultrasonic beams to target an area of the brain called the thalamus, without creating an incision, without creating a burr hole and without putting an electrode into the brain.
With dystonia, a patient’s muscles become increasingly tense and tightened to the point that the limbs don’t function that well. Medications can be used to relax a patient’s muscles. Botulinim toxin injections can also be used to sculpt muscles into a functional position. Patients with dystonia may also be treated with deep brain stimulation.
Learn more about treatment for movement disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital:
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