Do you have Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease is a slowly progressive disorder of the brain which can cause tremor, rigidity, difficulty walking, imbalance and "slowing down". Many other things can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to first speak with your Primary Care Physician about your concerns.

Who we are and what we do:

Dr. Georgia Lea, Dr. Julia Staisch, and Dr. David Houghton are specialty-trained neurologists and Colleen Knoop is a specialty-trained Nurse Practitioner in the field of Movement Disorders. Dominique Thomas is the Movement Disorders and DBS Program Coordinator.

We see patients with Parkinson's Disease, Essential Tremor, Dystonia, Restless Legs Syndrome, Huntington’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome, to name a few. We are named a Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence.

We also work in close collaboration with Neurosurgery, Neuropsychology and our allied health partners (Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy) in several interdisciplinary clinics.

Treatment options:

While there is still no cure for Parkinson's Disease, management by a Parkinson's Disease Specialist often results in many years of good quality of life. Levodopa remains the most effective medication available for the symptoms of PD. It can be found in the medications Sinemet, Parcopa and Stalevo (among others). However, because chronic use of levodopa can lead to a different kind of abnormal movement called "dyskinesia", many Neurologists try to limit this medication as much as possible. Depending on the symptoms of the patient and their other health problems, many other kinds of medications may be used. The most commonly used group besides levodopa are the "dopamine agonists" including ropinerole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex).

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy is an accepted adjunct to medical therapy. It is not a cure for Parkinson's Disease, nor does it replace medications, but it can significantly improve the symptoms of PD in the appropriate patients. Neurosurgeons across the world are learning how to place the fine wire into the deep brain, but many do not work in close corraboration with a Parkinson's Disease Specialist. The involvement of the specialized Neurologist in all steps of the procedure greatly effects the success of the surgery. At Ochsner, only patients who have been seen and evaluated by a Parkinson's Disease Specialist (Neurologist) and deemed appropriate candidates are referred for surgery. The Neurologist is then present during the surgery for critical intra-operative testing. After surgery, the patient is followed closely in the Neurology Department for programming of the generator and optimizing medications.

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