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Movement Disorders

Movement disorders are a group of neurological (nervous system) conditions that can cause dyskinesia (abnormal voluntary or involuntary movement, or slow, limited movement). Most movement disorders are caused by abnormal changes deep in the brain in an area called the basal ganglia, or in the base of the brain called the cerebellum. Others are caused by nerve or autoimmune diseases, infections, injuries, or genetics.

A range of different conditions fall into the category of movement disorders including:

  • Parkinson's disease – A progressive, degenerative disease in which the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical that controls movement, become impaired or die. Symptoms, such as tremors, muscle rigidity, loss of movement, then begin to appear.
  • Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) – A rare condition that has many symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease—muscle rigidity, slow movement, loss of balance—but also affects important involuntary functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and sweating.
  • Tremor – The most common movement disorder is an involuntary shaking or trembling that can affect the arms, head, face, voice, trunk, legs, and most commonly, the hands. Tremors can be symptoms of a neurological disorder, a side effect of medications, or it can occur in otherwise healthy people.

Because of so many variables, diagnosis of a movement disorder can be difficult. Diagnostic assessments usually include a discussion of the patient’s symptoms and medical and family history, a physical and neurological examination, blood tests, imaging tests (CT and PET scan, MRI), and an electromyogram (EMG) and electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor electrical activity in the body.

When it comes to movement disorders, the Temple neurologists at Jeanes Hospital have a deep understanding of the full range of issues caused by neurological disease and are highly-experienced in the diagnosis, treatment and management of these conditions.

Movement Disorders Treatment at Jeanes Hospital

The goal of treatment for movement disorders is to treat the underlying condition to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for the patient. Our multidisciplinary team of Temple neurologists and neurosurgeons works closely with patients and their families to develop the most appropriate treatment plan.

Often, treatment plans include medications to treat symptoms. These may include antiepileptic or antiseizure medications, beta-blockers, tranquilizers, and dopamine agonists. Levodopa/carbidopa is often prescribed for patients with Parkinson’s disease to replace dopamine in the brain. Botulinum toxin (Botox) is sometimes prescribed for injection into muscles to reduce spasms and tremors.

If the patient continues to decline or doesn’t respond to medication, the Temple neurology team may recommend one of the following surgical treatments:

  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) – The Temple neurosurgeon makes a small hole in the skull and inserts an electrode in a targeted area of the brain. A second extension wire is then connected to a battery-operated device called a neurostimulator, which is implanted in the chest or upper abdomen. The device delivers electrical impulses to specific areas of the brain to stimulate nerve cells and provide symptom relief.
  • Ablative surgery – The Temple neurosurgeon inserts a heated electrode into the targeted area in the brain and destroys the tissue that produces the abnormal impulses or chemicals that cause the patient’s symptoms.

The Temple neurology team may also suggest physical and occupational therapy to help retain and improve function and provide living skills to help the patient adapt to their changing medical condition. Counseling may also be recommended to help with anxiety and depression, as well mood and memory issues.

To schedule an appointment with a Temple neurologist or neurosurgeon at the Jeanes Hospital Neurosciences Center, click here or call 215-728-CARE (2273).

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