Movement Disorders are a category of neurological conditions that have abnormal, involuntary or excessively slow movements that are generated from within the brain or spinal cord.
A wide variety of conditions are considered to be movement disorders, but many can be categorized into four groups:
Dystonia — involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contractions, twists and repetitive movements Parkinson’s disease — a progressive and degenerative disease with reduced motor control Spasticity — category where muscles are continuously contracted, examples are cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and stroke Essential tremors — most common type of movement disorder that often involves shaking (or tremors) hands along with other head, neck, face
Causes and Symptoms of Movement Disorders
The cause of movement disorders depends, in part, on the specific condition, although for some disorders the causes remain unknown. Nerve and autoimmune diseases, infections, antipsychotic drugs and other damage to the brain (such as the basal ganglia, thalamus, and cerebellum), spinal cord and nerves along with heredity and environmental factors often contribute to a movement disorder. A person with a movement disorder may experience some of the symptoms below:
balance issues (possible history of falls)
facial tics or twitches
tremors (uncontrollable shaking)
disjointed or jerky movements
excessively slow movements
involuntary muscle contractions
involuntary movements in arms or legs
walking problems (shuffling or unsteady gait)
abnormal posture and positions
Diagnosis of Movement Disorders
As with any condition, your physician will need to learn about your medical history, current and past treatment programs and symptoms. A movement disorder diagnosis will also involve both a physical exam along with diagnostic tests such as brain imaging and blood work.
An electromyography (EMG) records a muscle’s electrical activity by using tiny electrodes to transmit the motor neuron signals that cause muscles to contract.
Clinical neuropsychologists have specialized knowledge in both psychology and neurology. Their expertise is often applied to diagnosing and treating conditions relating to the brain and behavior.
Treatments for Movement Disorders
Treatment for movement disorders often consists of a combination of medication such as muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. When medication and other therapies fail to provide relief, surgical treatment may be the best option.
A number of surgical treatment options for movement disorders are available, depending on the type of movement disorder you are experiencing. At NSPC, we are experienced in a wide range of surgical treatments including deep brain stimulation, vagus brain stimulation, and thalamotomy. Talk with experts from our multidisciplinary neurological teams to find out what is the best treatment option for you. Here are a few state-of-the-art movement disorders treatments that we offer at our top-notch medical facilities:
Deep Brain Stimulation During this procedure, a neurosurgeon makes a small incision in the skull and using computerized brain imaging inserts a tiny electrode deep within the brain to provide electrical pulses to modulate the brains electrical activity and limit involuntary movements.
Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Implantation For those suffering from spastic movements and who find that intrathecal baclofen medication (the medication baclofen injected into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord) is helpful but have adverse reactions to the pill form, an intrathecal baclofen pump implantation will regulate doses of the drug directly into your spinal fluid.
Gamma Knife® Thalamotomy Our expert board-certified neurosurgeons use this non-invasive (meaning no incision and no blood) radiosurgical procedure to treat essential tremors and some other movement disorders. Using high-energy gamma rays, Gamma Knife thalamotomy destroys the brain tissues causing the tremors, a type of ablative neurosurgery (destroys targeted body tissue).
At NSPC, our skilled multidisciplinary teams of neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuropsychologists, neuroradiologists, neuro-anesthesiologists and other clinical specialists in the NY and Long Island area can help you find the best treatment option for your movement disorder.