Parkinson's Disease and Other Movement Disorders
Movement disorders encompass a variety of neurological/neurodegenerative conditions, all of which create difficulty with proper movement. The most well known of these is Parkinson's disease, characterized by resting tremors, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness. Other movement disorders are essential tremor, dystonia (a disorder of muscle spasms and body twisting), spasticity, and facial spasm.
Surgery for movement disorders is an important focus at Weill Cornell, where a multidisciplinary approach involves a team of physicians, nurses and therapists dedicated to the evaluation, treatment and follow-up of patients undergoing surgery or other treatment procedures.
Weill Cornell makes use of advanced imaging and guidance technologies for minimally invasive, computer-assisted procedures to precisely target key brain structures. This allows the surgeon to plan and perform the operation as accurately as possible, reducing likelihood of complications. For most patients, suppressing the abnormal electrical feedback in the brain with tiny surgically implanted electrodes can control symptoms. Patients with Parkinson's disease, dyskinesias, essential tremor, and dystonia are treated with a technique called deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which electrodes are precisely placed in the appropriate part of the brain for the specific condition. Deep brain stimulation has allowed many patients to minimize their dependence on medications. DBS involves inserting a device in the brain with electrodes surgically placed into specific areas of the brain that regulate movement. A connection to a battery pack on the patient allows the physician to regulate the device without any further need for surgery, and the stimulation provided to the brain minimizes tremors.
Laboratory of Molecular Neurosurgery
Scientists at Weill CornellŐs Laboratory of Molecular Neurosurgery are continuing to investigate innovative approaches to the treatment of movement disorders and conducting pioneering research on gene therapy-based treatment for patients with Parkinson's disease, as well as other diseases, including Huntington's disease, obesity, and major depression, using the same gene transfer technology already applied in our landmark human trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease.
Today, Weill Cornell cares for one of the world's largest populations of patients with Parkinson's disease, dystonia, tremors, ataxia, TouretteŐs syndrome, myoclonus, and other movement disorders, serving the population of the metropolitan New York region, but many patients are referred from all over the United States and other countries. The surgical team works with neurologists at Weill Cornell who have expertise in diagnosing and treating both common and rare movement disorders, and are on the forefront of both basic and clinical research geared towards developing novel therapies. These clinicians are based at the Movement Disorders Program located in Weill Cornell's Department of Neurology. The department also works closely with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, which has a particular interest in neurological movement disorders and spasticity. This provides patients with comprehensive care to optimize their treatment both before and after surgery.
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