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Which Doctor To Consult For Parkinson

Support For People With Parkinson’s Disease

Ask a doctor: What is Parkinsons disease

If a patient wishes, the Movement Disorders team maintains an ongoing relationship that includes follow-up appointments with physicians and advanced practice providers to monitor the condition as it progresses. Family members are included in discussions about the goals of a patients treatment and rehabilitation program. Caregivers have access to services such as psychological counseling, support groups, and educational programs.

UT Southwestern also hosts an annual Parkinsons Disease Patient and Caregiver Symposium for patients, their families, their caregivers, and anyone interested in learning more about the disease. The symposium reviews the latest clinical treatments, ongoing research projects, new drugs, and leading-edge developments that are on the horizon.

Movement Disorders We Treat

Patients with movement disorders may struggle with tremor, tics, other involuntary movements, balance problems, progressively slower physical movement or even loss of physical movement. We treat the full range of movement disorders related to:

  • Parkinsons disease and related disorders
  • Dystonia
  • Myoclonus & stereotypical response to sudden and unexpected stimulus
  • Tics & Tourette disorder

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Signs Of Parkinsons Via Plasma Tests

For years, researchers have been trying to find ways to predict or diagnose neurodegenerative diseases and cancers through blood and plasma.

For now, there are no labs capable of diagnosing or predicting Parkinsons disease. But, scientists believe they are getting closer.

There are specific biomarkers that appear to be promising for Parkinsons disease treatment.

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How To Find The Right Healthcare Providers For Parkinson’s Disease

When you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you’ll need to find the right care team. Ideally, you’ll want a team of clinicians who will manage your medical care over the course of the next few years. This team should be headed by a neurologist with expertise in treating Parkinson’s patients.

While you can always change members of the team, putting some amount of thought and planning into assembling the initial team will pay dividends for you down the road if that team can rapidly and effectively address your early symptoms and needs.

The following suggestions will help you to assemble the care team that is best for you, and will also provide some ideas on how best to interact with your care team.

How Definite Is My Diagnosis


That’s the first question you should ask. is hard to diagnose. In fact, sometimes doctors think someone has Parkinson’s when they don’t. There is no test for it. Diagnosis depends on your symptoms and how they change over time. Don’t be afraid to ask if your doctor is certain that you have Parkinson’s. Ask why or why not.

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What Is Parkinson’s Disease And Why Do I Have It

Ask your doctor to explain Parkinson’s. In short, it’s a disease that causes loss of brain cells that produce dopamine. That’s a brain chemical important for movement. This happens gradually over time. As dopamine levels go down, symptoms increase. Keep asking for details until you understand the disease and what it does.

Figuring out why you have it, though, is not likely. That’s because what causes Parkinson’s is pretty much a mystery. Doctors do know that it’s more common after age 60.

Also, if others in your family have Parkinson’s, you might have inherited some genes that put you at risk. But genes alone are not the whole problem. Only about 1 in 4 people with Parkinson’s has a family history of it. Doctors think the cause may be genes along with something in the environment that triggers the disease.

Even though you might not get a firm answer, you should talk about this with your doctor. It’s a question most everyone has. It’s worth discussing.

Choose A Neurologist Who Specializes In Movement Disorders

Your first task is to find a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders . You need someone who can tell you what to anticipate and who can put you in touch with the best resources and treatment options available. This neurologist will know when to start medications and when to adjust the dosages of those medications to achieve maximum benefit and so forth. So how do you find such a specialist?

First, ask your primary care healthcare provider for a referral to a Parkinson’s specialist. Your primary care healthcare provider will certainly be able to point you in the right direction.

You can also find a local support group for Parkinson’s patients and ask those individuals for recommendations on specialists. You can get information on local support groups as well as local specialists from the local or regional chapters of a national Parkinson’s disease organization. If you can’t find a support group in your community, check out the online support communities for people with Parkinson’s disease who live in your area. You may even be able to get an idea of a neurologist who would meld well with your own personality by asking questions and hearing others talk about their experiences.

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What Should You Look For In A Movement Disorder Specialist If You Have Parkinsons Disease

Finding the right movement disorder specialist isnt much different than searching for any other type of expert. Start by asking around. Primary care doctors, neurologists and Parkinsons support groups can be good sources for recommendations.

Here are a few more things to look for when choosing a movement disorder specialist:

  • Group or board certification Certification is a mark of distinction. It shows that your doctor or clinician has not only completed their necessary training, but also gone above and beyond to be certified by their specialtys certifying board.
  • Part of a multidisciplinary team Your care and treatment plan should be tailored to you. And that means several specialists will need to work together to make sure you get the right care. Working with a movement disorder specialist who is part of a multidisciplinary team can help streamline services and communication.
  • Access to the latest treatments and specialized programming Access to the right treatment can make all the difference for a person with Parkinsons disease. We proudly offer the latest science-backed treatments, as well as the possibility of being involved in experimental treatment trials at Struthers Parkinsons Center in Golden Valley and HealthPartners Neuroscience Center in St. Paul.

Looking for a doctor who specializes in Parkinsons disease?

Who We Are And What We Do:

Doctor Explains What Patients Need To Know If They’re Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease

Dr. Georgia Lea, Dr. Julia Staisch, and Dr. David Houghton are specialty-trained neurologists and Colleen Knoop is a specialty-trained Nurse Practitioner in the field of Movement Disorders. Dominique Thomas is the Movement Disorders and DBS Program Coordinator.

We see patients with Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremor, Dystonia, Restless Legs Syndrome, Huntingtons disease and Tourettes syndrome, to name a few. We are named a Huntingtons Disease Society of America Center of Excellence.

We also work in close collaboration with Neurosurgery, Neuropsychology and our allied health partners in several interdisciplinary clinics.

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Parkinson’s Treatment And Research At Henry Ford

Our doctors are committed to helping you restore lost motor functions. When you come to Henry Ford, youll have the opportunity to work with board-certified movement specialists and even participate in movement disorders research and clinical trials. Our doctors and researchers are involved in research for new and advanced treatments that will slow or postpone the onset of illness.

Treatments you and your care team may explore include:

  • Medication: Many of the movement symptoms associated with Parkinsons are caused by lack of dopamine, a chemical produced by the brain. Current medicines work as a dopamine replacement and can improve tremor, rigidity and slowness associated with the disease. Ongoing research is exploring new medicines that may be effective in treating symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation: Deep brain stimulation therapy can be an excellent option for patients who no longer have relief of their symptoms with medication. While it is not a cure for Parkinsons, it can dramatically relieve some symptoms and improve your quality of life. Learn more about deep brain stimulation.

Parkinson’s Disease And Movement Disorders Center

Wang Ambulatory Care Center

Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center8th Floor, Suite 835

To schedule an appointment:

Appointments can be scheduled by calling:

Prior to your first appointment, ask your primary care physician or referring doctor to fax pertinent medical records to the office.

Translation services are available. Please inform us if you need the assistance of a translator.

If you are a new patient to Mass General:

Call to obtain a registration number:

What to bring to your appointment:

  • Your registration card, insurance card, and co-pay
  • Any medical records and MRI scans that have not been sent to the office
  • List of your current medications

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What Is The Clinic Culture Like

Finally, I consider the clinics culture. Are the staff personable and patient-centric? Is it easy to make an appointment? Do they care about me? I went to one clinic where the doctor came to the waiting room to get their patient as opposed to a nurse. I like that.

It may seem inconsequential to some but to me, it was evident that I was important. Important enough for the doctor to come and walk me to the examination room.

Do You Have To See A Movement Disorder Specialist For Parkinsons Disease

Doctor Discussion Guide: 10 Questions to Ask About Parkinsons Disease

There are some general practice neurologists and other clinicians who arent movement disorder specialists who work with people with Parkinsons disease.

However, movement disorder specialists have the unique training and experience to treat and manage all motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease, as well as have familiarity with all Parkinsons medications and treatment options. This makes movement disorder specialists the best choice to handle the nuances of Parkinsons care at every stage of the disease.

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Movement Disorder Specialists Work With You To Create A Personalized Treatment Plan

Movement disorder specialists training and experience make them ideal doctors to develop a plan for treating and managing symptoms, as well as help you or your loved one live well throughout the course of Parkinsons disease.

Your movement disorder specialist can:

  • Manage Parkinsons disease medications and potential side effects
  • Recommend and perform botulinum toxin injections, which can help with symptoms such as drooling or limb dystonia
  • Treat and manage non-motor symptoms such as depression, constipation, low blood pressure and sleep disturbances
  • Evaluate you for deep brain stimulation or other invasive Parkinsons therapies, and manage your care after the procedure

But one of the most important aspects of a movement disorder specialists role should be coordinating care with other specialists such as:

Finding The Right Doctor

Managing Parkinsons disease well can be challenging. Finding a doctor whos well-versed in PD and will help guide you on the journey makes it easier.

Its natural to begin by discussing initial symptoms with your family doctor or internist, who may refer you to a general neurologist or one specialized in movement disorders to rule out Parkinsons.

The Parkinsons Foundation recommends people diagnosed with PD seek out a movement disorders specialist one who can become a key player on your healthcare team. For people living far from an academic medical center or a specialist in private practice, we recommend a knowledgeable, nearby general neurologist for most of your care and then traveling a longer distance two to three times each year to see a specialist. Finding a specialist can seem like a daunting task, but it doesnt have to be. The Parkinsons Foundation can guide you step by step through the process of finding one.

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How Do You Know You Have Parkinsons Disease

There is no definitive way to diagnose Parkinsons disease. Your doctor will ask questions about the onset of your symptoms and assess your movement to make referrals to specialists who can make a formal diagnosis.

You can expect to see a neurologist who can complete a neurologic examination. This may include brain imaging, an MRI, or a PET scan to see activity in the area of the brain typically affected by Parkinsons disease.

Your doctor may also refer you to a movement disorder specialist. Seeing subspecialists is very important to avoid being misdiagnosed. Highly trained specialists can provide their expertise in specific areas of medicine where a precise diagnosis isnt possible from blood work or another definitive test.

What To Look For In A Parkinsons Care Team

Doctor on Parkinson’s Disease

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, the first important task is to choose a care team. But how?

Its often helpful to visualize yourself at the center of a circle, surrounded by a team of expert supporters and caregivers. The experts at the Johns Hopkins Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders Center provide tips on who should make up your team. Its important to keep in mind that youre all in this together, managing a progressive, chronic disease. Key players to look for include:

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Brain Imaging Can Help With Diagnosis

Doctors use two tests that take detailed pictures of your brain. Each one may help your doctor make a diagnosis. These tests are:

  • PET scan: This shows how your brain functions. It shows how the brain uses sugar. This scan can help tell the difference between Parkinsons and .
  • DaTscan: This shows problems with brain cells that make dopamine. Healthy brain cells light up during the test. Cells without enough dopamine appear dark. This scan can help your doctor tell the difference between Parkinsons and a brain disease called .

Imaging studies are a newer way to diagnose Parkinsons. However, not every healthcare facility can do them. It takes an experienced doctor to interpret the scans accurately. These scans also can be very expensive. Be sure to check with your insurance company ahead of time to see whether you are covered and what your out-of-pocket costs will be.

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Medication For Parkinsons Disease

Once the doctor diagnoses Parkinsons disease, the next decision is whether a patient should receive medication, which depends on the following:

  • The degree of functional impairment

  • The degree of cognitive impairment

  • Ability to tolerate antiparkinsonian medication

  • The advice of the attending doctor

No two patients react the same way to a given drug, therefore, it takes time and patience to find an appropriate medication and dosage to alleviate symptoms.

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Finding The Right Movement Disorder Specialist

Having the right partnership with your doctor can make a difference, not just in managing your Parkinsons symptoms but also in how supported you feel overall. Its important for you to feel confident in that relationship and to have access to a treatment team that meets your needs.

Finding a good movement disorder specialist is a lot like hunting for a good dentist or a good mechanic: You need to ask around. Your primary care doctor or neurologist may be a good place to start. Or ask people in your support group, if you attend one, whom they see. You can also try contacting one of the national Parkinson’s organizations.

In choosing a doctor, consider how much the doctor knows and how well the doctor listens. Remember, no two cases of Parkinson’s disease are alike. Having a doctor who understands this, and who listens to you, is crucial.

With any Parkinson’s doctor, you are a partner in your care. Educate yourself about PD. Parkinson’s is different for everyone, and you can’t get the best care unless you’re specific about what you are experiencing. It’s okay to ask why particular treatments or therapies are being recommended , and it’s okay to get another opinion.

The MDS Movement Disorders Specialist Finder can help you locate a doctor in your area.

Is Telemedicine An Option

Parkinsons Care and Telemedicine: The Doctor Will See You Now ...

COVID-19 has facilitated the implementation of telemedicine. The fact that insurance will cover these types of visits further enhances this option. This has been a godsend for me and has saved me hours of driving. My movement disorder specialists office is over 80 miles from my home. In addition, my doctors have a much better track record at being on time for my telemedicine appointment compared with in-office visits.

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Remember You Are Not Alone

Parkinsons is a relatively common disease, with 60,000 Americans diagnosed every year. According to research conducted by the Parkinsons Foundation, approximately 930,000 people will be living with Parkinsons in American by 2020. That number is expected to increase to 1.2 million by 2030. Approximately 15% of people who get Parkinsons have a family history of the disease.

Where Can I Find A Movement Disorder Specialist

People with Parkinsons disease often benefit from many different specialties on their care team. One specialist that can help you manage your condition is a movement disorder specialist. Movement disorder specialists help treat tics, tremors, and other involuntary muscle movements that can interfere with your daily life. People with PD can benefit from movement disorder specialists at any stage of treatment.

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What Symptoms Can I Expect

To diagnose Parkinson’s, doctors look for at least two of these four symptoms:

  • A type of shaking, called tremor
  • A slowing down of movement, called bradykinesia
  • A lack of balance, called postural instability
  • A type of limb stiffness, called rigidity

Over time, you may develop all four. You may also have trouble with walking, talking and swallowing. People with Parkinson’s also sometimes develop , skin problems, and . They also may have trouble sleeping.

Ask what your doctor thinks you should expect, and when. Knowing what to expect will help you put a plan in place for the future.

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