Movement Disorders

Woman hugging her husband smiling.

While many common movement disorders can't be cured, successful symptom control can manage each condition's effects and promote quality of life for patients and families. Our specialty-trained, interdisciplinary movement disorder team provides complete care to help patients live to their fullest potential.

Our world-renowned experts provide advanced diagnoses and leading-edge treatments to help patients maintain function and enjoy life.

About movement disorders

Movement disorders are a group of conditions in which the brain abnormally signals the nervous system. This causes uncontrolled, involuntary or slow movement. Disease progression may eventually make daily functions – such as eating, drinking, dressing and walking – difficult.

Our team treats common movement disorders, including:

We also offer experience in rarer conditions, such as:

  • Progressive supranuclear palsy, which can progress rapidly, causing difficulty controlling the feet, falling, speech challenges and cognitive issues.
  • Multiple system atrophy, characterized by symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease, like slowness, stiffness, balance issues and tremor, along with early autonomic symptoms including hypotension, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
  • Lewy body dementia, which is responsible for 15-20% of dementia cases, but is difficult to differentiate from Parkinson's disease, occurring within a year of the initial onset of Parkinson's disease symptoms, as opposed to occurring later during the disease's progression.
  • Symptoms of movement disorders include spasms, jerking, twitching, shaking, muscle contraction and gait problems, such as walking unsteadily or dragging a leg.

    It is important to note that while many movement disorders share similar symptoms, their causes are quite different. An accurate diagnosis is critical to determining effective treatment.

  • Our fellowship-trained movement disorder experts bring focus, innovation and compassion to treatment and support of patients and families. Our specialists' training, education and experience are essential to providing you with precise diagnoses and treatment options.

    To control symptoms, you need an accurate diagnosis. There are many brain transmitters that influence involuntary or reduced movement. Different medications are designed to affect the behavior of each transmitter. Advanced tools help improve the accuracy of diagnosis.

    As an academic medical center, we are consistently at the forefront of the latest medical advances. We extend the leading treatment options to people in Kansas City and surrounding areas. For movement disorders, medical and surgical treatments may include:

    • Deep brain stimulation, which delivers electrical stimulation to the brain to relieve symptoms for patients with Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia. Our neurosurgeons are among the most experienced in the nation and can perform procedures with the patient either awake or asleep.
    • Carbidopa/levodopa enteral suspension (Dupoa™), an advanced therapy for Parkinson's disease, involves the delivery of medication to the small intestine via continuous pump. This approach offers more consistent symptom control with less "off time," in which symptoms worsen between medication doses.
    • Botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections, which provide control for dystonia, blepharospasm, hemifacial spasm, drooling, urinary and speech issues. The injections weaken the overachieving muscles and block the signals that cause muscle contraction.
  • We offer services to complement medical and surgical treatments, delivering a complete care plan for every patient managing a movement disorder. These include:

    • Physical therapy, including LSVT-BIG, a therapy protocol recognized for its effectiveness in addressing movement impairment for patients with Parkinson's disease and related disorders
    • Speech therapy, including LSVT-LOUD, a therapy protocol proven to improve speech and communications issues for patients with Parkinson's disease and related disorders
    • Occupational therapy
    • Swallowing evaluations including clinical examination, video study and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing
    • Social services
    • Neuropsychological testing
Brain scan.

Advanced imaging

We were the first in Kansas City and the region to offer DaTscan, a diagnostic test to diagnose Parkinson's disease and other tremors. DaTscan uses a radioactive imaging drug injected into the bloodstream to detect dopamine transporters in the brain. DaTscan helps distinguish tremors from other neurological conditions. The precision helps physicians choose the most appropriate treatment.
Location
Parkinson's Disease Center
We offer a Parkinson's Disease Center of Excellence recognized by the National Parkinson Foundation.
Shield
Nationally ranked
Our neurology and neurosurgery program ranked No. 31 on U.S. News & World Report's 2018-19 Best Hospitals list.
Research
Leading researchers
Our providers are also leading researchers. They care for patients today and drive research to develop new treatments.

What to expect

Our providers collaborate with you to determine a treatment approach that may combine physical, occupational, speech/swallowing and cognitive therapies, medication or surgery to control symptoms and slow disease progression.

Diverse specialists contribute to care plans. Experienced neurologists, neurosurgeons, general surgeons, neurophysiologists, neuropsychologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, neuroradiologists, psychologists, dermatologists, urologists and specialized nurses and anesthesiologists may play a role. The interdisciplinary approach achieves outcomes that surpass the national average.

In evaluating new patients, our physicians perform a complete assessment to answer:

  • How disruptive to daily activities are your symptoms?
  • Are you having non-motor symptoms, such as problems with memory, thinking, mood, sleep, dizziness or balance?
  • What is your current overall quality of life?

Our care team combines neurological and physical examinations with symptom observation and neuroimaging to evaluate your needs. We provide education and help explore the long-term outlook. Through discussion of specific symptoms and their severity, our physicians partner with you and your family to create a personalized treatment plan.

Doctors and nurses collaborating

Leading research and clinical trials

We collaborate closely with the University of Kansas Medical Center to realize the power of academic medicine. Here at the health system, we deliver advanced patient care. The staff at the medical center conducts industry-leading research and clinical trials.
Our Research

Our experts

Learn more about our leaders in movement disorder treatment and research.