Movement Disorders

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Duke movement disorder specialists treat the full range of movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, ataxia, tics, Tourette syndrome, myoclonus, and restless legs. Our comprehensive care team works together to identify movement disorders that are difficult to diagnose, including rare genetic diseases. Our goal is to improve your quality of life by drawing upon lifestyle management, physical therapy, medication, and surgical options.

About Movement Disorders

The brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles must work together for your body to move normally. This is achieved through movement control centers in the brain. A disruption in how these components communicate with each other can result in a movement disorder. Movement disorders are neurological conditions that involuntarily change the speed, presence, or coordination of movement. Some have genetic causes, while others are brought on by conditions like injuries, strokes, or infections.

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Movement Disorders We Treat

  • Ataxia, including spinocerebellar ataxias
  • Chorea
  • Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration (CBGD)
  • Dystonia
  • Functional movement disorders
  • Hemiballismus
  • Hemifacial spasm
  • Huntington's disease
  • Motor stereotypies
  • Multiple system atrophy (MSA)


Our Movement Disorders Center

Our specialized Movement Disorders Center is located at Duke Neurology Morreene Road.

Diagnosing Movement Disorders

Doctors typically diagnose movement disorders based on your symptoms, a complete medical history, and physical and neurological exams. Your doctor may also suggest imaging scans, genetic tests, blood tests, or neurophysiological studies like electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG).

The Duke Movement Disorders Center offers events to support and educate people with movement disorders and their care partners.


Treatments for Movement Disorders

The Duke movement disorder care team includes providers who specialize in a variety of evidence-supported interventions. Treatment options range from diet and exercise to cutting-edge medicines and procedures.

Medications, including MAO and COMT inhibitors and dopamine agonists, increase levels of dopamine, the brain chemical that helps control symptoms like difficulty walking or tremors that occur in parkinsonian disorders. Our specialized clinical pharmacist is available to help you manage your medications, minimize side effects, and reduce medication costs. 

Botulinum Toxin Injections
Botulinum toxin (“Botox”) injections can help reduce muscle contractions in movement disorders like dystonia. 

Focused Ultrasound
Also called high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), this procedure is used to treat essential tremor.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Surgery
DBS is an effective treatment for people with Parkinson’s, essential tremor, and dystonia. DBS is an option for people whose symptoms fail to respond to medications, or who experience serious side effects from medications. 

Physical and Occupational Therapy
Our highly trained therapists specialize in treating people with movement disorders and are a highly integrated part of our movement disorder care team. They are available to evaluate, treat, and educate you and your family.

Speech and Language Therapy
Our speech-language pathologists help you adapt to changes in speech and communication, as well as swallowing difficulties that may accompany movement disorders. 

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Why Choose Duke

Recognized Centers of Excellence
As designated Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington's disease, and dystonia, Duke Health provides the highest level of testing, diagnosis, and management services for people with these and other movement disorders.

Comprehensive Care
Our comprehensive movement disorders program includes specially trained neurologists, neurosurgeons, social workers, nurses, pharmacists, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists. We work together as a team to care for people with movement disorders and to support their families. 

Social Work and Support Services
Our licensed clinical social workers provide counseling services to people with movement disorders as well as their families. We often make referrals to a wide range of additional support services, including medical disability application and other assistance programs. We also offer discussions, classes, and support groups to help you and your loved ones cope with your diagnosis. 

Training Programs
We train the next generation of movement disorders specialists by teaching neurologists and other providers how to diagnose and manage movement disorders. This means you work with some of the most knowledgeable and experienced movement disorder specialists.

You May Have Access to Clinical Trials
Our researchers are committed to discovering how to better treat and even cure movement disorders. By participating in clinical trials at Duke, you may have access to treatments that are not yet widely available yet.

Related Specialties

Best Hospital for Neurology, Neurosurgery in NC

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our neurology and neurosurgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 10/16/2023 by