Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that affects the body’s movement. The disease results from the gradual deterioration of the dopamine-producing nerve cells located in the mid-section of the brain. The most recognizable symptom of Parkinson’s disease is tremors, but stiffness, rigidity, imbalance, and a general slowing of movement also are common. Parkinson’s is a slow but progressive disease; symptoms worsen with time and eventually interfere with walking, talking, and other routine activities. Although not curable, medication can help manage the symptoms. Approximately 1 percent of the population is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and most of the affected are at least 50 years old.

The UAB Comprehensive Parkinson Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic cares for an average of 3,500 patients annually, making it one of the busiest of its kind in the country. Located within The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital, the clinic specializes in the full range of neurological disorders that affect movement, including Parkinson’s disease and other Parkinsonian disorders. UAB offers the depth and expertise to work with complex cases and provide advanced therapies, patient education, and support, and our neurologists have repeatedly been named among the top doctors in the United States. Along with comprehensive diagnostic services, we utilize the latest treatment approaches including medications, physical, occupational and speech therapy, deep brain stimulation, surgery, neuropsychological evaluations and treatment, and clinical trials designed to test new medical and surgical therapies, including “neuroprotective therapies” for Parkinson’s disease.

UAB is one of eight Advanced Centers for Parkinson Research as designated by the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, and it is one of 41 designated clinics for the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Research Program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The UAB program includes many studies and trials of new medications and treatments, and at any given time there are more than one dozen open clinical trials patients can join. Some trials are for particular stages of the disease while others are open to all, so there is something for everyone interested in participation and access to the latest science in the field. 

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