The Center for Parkinson's Disease and Other Movement Disorders at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital offers the only comprehensive diagnostic and treatment program for Parkinson's and other movement disorders in Brooklyn.
Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the central nervous system, involving the degeneration and loss of nerve cells in the basal ganglia of the brain. The disease occurs in both men and women and, while symptoms may occur as early as age 40, they are usually not apparent until patients are in their 60s or 70s.
Parkinson's is diagnosed through a clinical examination and medical history; there are no radiological or laboratory tests for the disease. There are many common symptoms of the disease, but there is no way of knowing which ones a patient will have, or in what order they will occur. The most characteristic feature of Parkinson's disease is a slow and rhythmic tremor at rest. Usually the tremor begins in one hand and then later spreads to the other. Feet, legs, the lips, and jaw may also shake.
Other common symptoms of Parkinson's include rigidity in the limbs, neck, or trunk; hypokinesia, or impaired gait, which may eventually result in slow, small, shuffling steps and balance problems; and impairment of posture. Parkinson's is a chronic disease. Once symptoms appear, it can be treated, but it will not go away.
It usually progresses slowly, but the rate of progression varies from one case to another and is unpredictable. Treatment is designed to suppress or reduce the symptoms that are present.
Treatment for Parkinson's Disease
While there is currently no cure, there are many available treatments that can improve quality of life, sometimes to the point where the disease has little impact. In the earliest stages of Parkinson's, there may be no reason for treatment. However, if symptoms result in a functional disability that interferes with everyday activities, then medication may be considered.
Sometimes, the medications stop providing significant relief of symptoms. If this occurs, surgical interventions in the basal ganglia may be used to alleviate some symptoms, particularly tremor, rigidity, and dystonic muscle pain and, to a lesser extent, hypokinesia. The procedures performed involve the implantation of deep brain stimulators. Surgery for Parkinson's disease is performed stereotactically. This means that, under local anesthesia, the targeted areas of the brain are reached with the aid of a computerized guidance system through a small hole in the skull. This type of surgery takes less than two hours and the patient can usually go home the next day.
Other Movement Disorders
There are a number of related movement disorders, sometimes called Parkinson syndromes or atypical "Parkinsonisms," as well as other unrelated movement disorders that are not considered Parkinsonisms. These conditions are also treated by physicians at the Center. It is important to differentiate between these disorders and Parkinson's in order to plan treatment appropriately.
In addition to medical and surgical treatment of Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, the Center offers a special inpatient rehabilitation program for patients with Parkinson's; support groups and a patient navigator who helps to coordinate care for patients being treated at the Center. The program offers numerous ancillary services including physical and occupational therapy, swallowing and speech-language pathology, psychiatric and mental health services, neurosurgical procedures, and educational services. In addition, our staff is actively involved in Parkinson's research. Our care team will provide each patient with a comprehensive treatment program specifically tailored to meet each person's needs.