Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressing movement disorder that results not only in a loss of dopamine-producing brain cells but also loss of other neurons throughout the nervous system. The disease produces a number of characteristic symptoms, most commonly:
Bradykinesia , or slowness in initiating movement
Poor posture and balance that may cause falls, gait or balance problems
Treatment for Parkinson's disease depends on the patient's age, overall health, medical history, extent and type of condition, and tolerance for specific treatments. Treatment options include:
Surgery, including lesion surgery (burning of tissue in the area of the brain causing tremor), stereotactic radiosurgery, and experimental neural grafting or tissue transplants
Complementary and supportive therapies, such as diet, exercise, physical and occupational therapy, and speech therapy
The Department of Neurology uses cutting edge stem cell technologies to better understand and treat Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is one of few centers in New England to offer deep brain stimulation (DBS), which can be given as a treatment for select patients with Parkinson's disease. DBS is a surgical procedure in which a small electrode is placed in the critical parts of the brain that help to control movement.
Another treatment option for Parkinson's disease is botulinum toxin injections for patients with involuntary muscle contractions in specific areas of the body, such as the face.
BWH: comprehensive treatment for patients with Parkinson's disease.
The Movement Disorder Program at BWH provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for patients with movement disorders, including Parkinson's disease, tremor, and dystonia (severe muscle spasms). The Program's team of physicians, nurses, and researchers is dedicated to advancing the understanding and treatment of Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The Program is a collaboration between BWH and Massachusetts General Hospital working with the national Parkinson Study Group. In addition to Parkinson's disease, the Program provides comprehensive care for patients with other movement disorders such as Tourette syndrome, tremor, and dystonia (uncontrollable muscle contractions).
Specialized neurology and neurosurgery services in at BWH.
Parkinson's disease diagnosis and treatment are administered by the Department of Neurology at BWH, which integrates a diverse array of specialized services for patients with neurological disorders. The BWH Boston neurology campus partners with our community locations at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain and with Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center in Foxborough and South Shore Hospital in Weymouth to offer state-of-the-art facilities and the largest neuroscience intensive care unit in the New England region.
Neurosurgical treatment for Parkinson's disease is provided by specialists in our world-class BWH Department of Neurosurgery. Our expert Boston neurosurgeons deliver comprehensive neurosurgery treatment through many innovative techniques to improve outcomes for our neurosurgery patients. The Department's Boston neurosurgery staff of more than 13 clinical faculty and over 100 department members strives to provide patient-focused, world-class medical treatment across the spectrum of neurological diseases, including Parkinson's disease.
Researchers at BWH are engaged in multidisciplinary research to better understand and develop treatments for chronic neurological diseases like Parkinson's disease as well as multiple sclerosis therapy and Alzheimer's disease treatment. Research projects include efforts to identify a disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease; efforts to identify biomarkers to diagnose, track, and monitor treatment response, and genetic studies; and DNA and tissue banking for Parkinson's and related disorders.