Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Disease

Essential Tremor, Dystonia and Other Movement Disorders

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Duke neurologists treat the full range of movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. As a National Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, we are recognized for our research, care and comprehensive services. We offer the latest medications and treatments, as well as comprehensive support services to improve your quality of life.

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Treatments

Our treatment options help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Medications

Improve the symptoms of movement disorders. For Parkinson’s patients, the most effective medication is Carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet). We also offer the full range of drugs used to treat movement disorders, including MAO and COMT inhibitors and dopamine agonists, among others. They work in different ways to increase levels of dopamine, the brain chemical that helps control your symptoms, such as difficulty walking or tremors.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

DBS is an option for patients whose symptoms fail to respond to medications, or who experience serious side effects from medications. DBS is an effective treatment for patients with Parkinson’s, essential tremor and dystonia. Electrodes are implanted directly onto your brain to stimulate a specific region and interfere with the abnormal activity associated with your symptoms.

Exercise

Programs designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients meet several times a week at the Duke Health and Fitness Center. The exercises help you control your motor symptoms.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Comprehensive physical and occupational, is delivered by highly trained therapists who specialize in issues relating to Parkinson’s. Therapists are available on site for patient evaluation and treatment, and to offer education to your families.

Speech and Language Therapy

Our speech-language pathologists help you adapt to changes in speech and cognitive-communication, as well as swallowing difficulties that may accompany Parkinson's and other movement disorders. Our speech pathologists also undergo rigorous training and are certified to provide Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, an intensive program that improves speech and voice in people with Parkinson's disease. We can also help you develop successful strategies for communication and swallowing as your disease progresses, and help you learn to use augmentative and alternative communication, when appropriate.

Support Services

We offer discussions, classes and support groups to help you or your loved one cope with your diagnosis. Contact our movement disorders center at 919-684-5128 for information on our monthly Parkinson’s support group.

Clinical Social Work

Provides counseling services to patients with movement disorders as well as their families. We can offer referrals to a wide range of support services, including medical disability application and other assistance programs.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Tests

Doctors typically diagnose movement disorders based on your symptoms, a complete medical history and a physical and neurological exam. We also offer the DaTscan, which is the first FDA-approved imaging test for evaluating Parkinson’s.

DaTscan

SPECT imaging scan detects levels of dopamine transporters (DaT) in areas of your brain. DaTscan cannot detect Parkinson’s disease, but it can confirm a diagnosis if it is already suspected.

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Why Choose Duke

If you or someone you know suffers from a movement disorder, our team of caring specialists are here to help. 

National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence
We offer the latest medications to treat Parkinson’s disease, as well as other movement disorders.

Comprehensive Care
We run a comprehensive program for movement disorders with specially trained neurologists and neurosurgeons, social workers, and physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Latest Diagnostic and Medical Advances
We use the GE DaTscan, the first FDA-approved imaging test for help diagnosing Parkinson’s. Our research ensures we are up-to-date on the newest drugs and therapies available today, while our scientists work to identify even better treatment options.

Research Leaders
Our scientists have made significant discoveries about the genetics of Parkinson’s, helping us develop more effective and targeted treatments.

Clinical Trial Access
​You may be eligible to participate in our clinical trials, which are open to people with early to advanced Parkinson’s disease. We test new therapies that may help relieve your symptoms or slow the progression of the disease.

Best Neurology, Neurosurgery in North Carolina
When it comes to your care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked neurology and neurosurgery program was named best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.