Movement disorders are a group of neurological disorders that consist of the motor and movement systems. Some of these diseases include:
Treatment for Movement Disorders and Parkinson’s Disease
At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, our neurologists and neurosurgeons are on the forefront of research about Movement Disorders and Parkinson’s disease, including Deep Brain Stimulation. Learn more about treatment options by visiting Movement Disorders Treatment.
The common feature among many of these disorders is that the parts of the brain that are affected are part of the same system. The group of structures often entangled in these abnormalities includes the basal ganglia (a large cluster of cells that lie deep in the hemispheres of the brain). The anatomic and biochemical connections from the basal ganglia to other parts of the brain are extremely complex, and not fully understood. States involving the basal ganglia, most commonly affect an individual’s speed, quality and ease of movement.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder. Characteristic primary symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors, rigidity, slow movement (bradykinesia), poor balance and difficulty walking (referred to as “parkinsonian gait”). Primary symptoms definitions:
- Bradykinesia is slowness in voluntary movement. It produces difficulty initiating movement and difficulty completing movement once it is in progress. Delayed transmission of signals from the brain to the skeletal muscles, due to diminished dopamine, produces bradykinesia.
- Tremors in the hands, fingers, forearms or feet tend to occur when a limb is at rest but not when performing tasks. Tremors can also occur in the mouth and chin.
- Rigidity (or stiff muscles) can produce muscle pain and an expressionless, mask-like face, and it tends to increase during movement.
- Poor balance happens when there is an impairment or loss of reflexes that adjust posture to help maintain balance.
- Parkinsonian gait is a distinctive unsteady walk associated with Parkinson’s disease. There is a tendency to lean unnaturally backward or forward, and to develop a stooped, head-down, shoulders-drooped stance. Arm swinging is diminished or absent, and people with Parkinson’s tend to take small shuffling steps (referred to as festination).
Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder and is characterized by rhythmic shaking which occurs during voluntary movement (action tremor), such as lifting a cup to one's mouth, or while voluntarily maintaining a position against gravity (postural tremor), such as reaching or extending one's hand or arm. It is less common when at rest.
Some patients may have a family history of tremors that usually involves the arms and hands. The neurological exam is otherwise normal. If the tremor is disabling, medication can be useful.
Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary, continual muscular contractions. It can result in twisted, contorted postures of the body or limbs. Movements are usually slow and may appear exaggerated. The many causes of this movement disorder include biochemical abnormalities, degenerative disorders, psychiatric dysfunction, toxins and drugs.
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), in collaboration with Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), has launched the Huntington's Disease Care, Education and Research Center. With support from the Griffin Foundation, the Huntington's Disease Center is the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary center to focus on treatment, patient education and research of the disease in the Washington, D.C. area. Read more about this center >
We have 2 convenient locations, one at the hospital and one in Vienna:
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
3800 Reservoir Rd., NW
Pasquerilla Healthcare Center (PHC)
Washington, DC 20007
301 Maple Ave. West
Vienna, VA 22180
Please visit the Movement Disorders Treatment page for more information.