Movement Disorders Unit

Movement Disorders Unit

Massachusetts General Hospital's Movement Disorders Unit sees patients from around the world for everything from the most common to the rarest of movement disorders.
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Movement Disorders Unit: 617-726-5532

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Massachusetts General Hospital's Movement Disorders Unit sees patients from around the world for everything from the most common to the rarest of movement disorders.

What to Expect

Movement disorders can sometimes be very difficult to diagnose. Many patients come to our unit after seeing neurologists outside of Mass General for additional diagnostic evaluations.

New patients first undergo a comprehensive evaluation that can include a thorough clinical assessment, laboratory testing, cognitive evaluation and brain imaging. These capabilities—along with the experience and expertise of our on-staff neurologists—allow us to make quick and accurate diagnoses.

Once we have established the diagnosis, we are happy to provide ongoing care at our unit or in collaboration with the patient's primary care physician or neurologist. In addition, we can make referrals to other specialists in Mass General for further testing or treatment when appropriate.

Please note: We strongly recommend that patients interested in a clinical consultation with us first receive a referral from their primary care physician or neurologist. A referral letter outlining the patient's issues helps us make the first visit here as productive as possible.

Specialization to the Highest Degree

One important factor that sets the Movement Disorders Unit apart is our staff's size and degree of specialization. We have an unusually large number of neurologists, each of whom has devoted his or her life to studying a particular disorder. A patient diagnosed with Huntington's disease, for example, will be treated by a clinician who specializes in this condition.

Also, we go beyond medication to do whatever it takes to improve the patient's quality of life. For instance, some patients with Parkinson's disease or dystonia can benefit from surgical procedures such as deep brain stimulation. In these cases, we will work with other professionals in the neurology department to determine and carry out the best surgical option.

When therapy will help, we can call on the expertise of our physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech therapist. A genetic counselor and social worker round out our group and enable us to address all aspects of the patient's condition.

A Reputation for Research ExcellenceThe neurologists in our unit not only are first-rate clinicians but also perform cutting-edge research into movement disorders in their labs at Mass General and at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND).

At the MIND labs, collaboration and sharing of resources help accelerate basic science and drug discovery in the scientifically related neurodegenerative diseases. Mass General is recognized as a Center of Excellence by both the National Parkinson Foundation and the Huntington's Disease Society of America. This designation acknowledges the importance of our research and results in research grants from these organizations.

Patients can take part in groundbreaking clinical research conducted through our unit, including genetic projects, therapeutic trials and more. Also, many of our physicians are members of the Parkinson Study Group or Huntington Study Group and can offer some patients entrance into clinical trials testing promising new treatments.

About this Program

The Movement Disorders Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital provides diagnosis, treatment and support to patients with a variety of movement disorders.

Our unit includes four specialized clinics:

  • Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic: has earned the prestigious qualification of Parkinson Disease Center of Excellence from the National Parkinson Foundation. The clinic is also the clinical arm of the Mass General/MIT Udall Center for Excellence in Parkinson's Research
  • Huntington's Disease Clinic: recognized as a Huntington's Disease Society Center of Excellence for our comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treating patients with Huntington's
  • Dystonia Clinic: a regional referral center for adult and pediatric patients seeking specialized care and treatment for generalized dystonia, writer's cramp and all other types of dystonia
  • Tourette Syndrome Clinic: a specialized multidisciplinary clinic and regional referral center for adult and pediatric patients with Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders

In addition to the conditions mentioned above, we see patients with other forms of Parkinsonism, tremor, gait disorders, drug-induced movement disorders, and other rare diseases and conditions.

Over Sixty Years of History

Mass General has a long history of conducting research into Parkinson's disease and caring for patients with this and other movement disorders. The groundwork for the Movement Disorders Unit was laid in the 1940s, when Robert Schwab, MD, published his first research paper on Parkinson's disease.

John Growdon, MD, formalized Dr. Schwab's vision by founding the Movement Disorders Center in 1982. Twenty years later, the unit combined with the Brigham and Women's Hospital Movement Disorders Clinic (part of the Partners HealthCare System) to form the Partners Parkinson Disease and Movement Disorders Center. Dr. Growdon now serves as director of our unit.

Our physicians are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders, and are leaders of research in their chosen subspecialty. Many serve on advisory committees for private organizations such as the National Parkinson Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Parkinson Disease Foundation and Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

Rich Research Opportunities

The Movement Disorders Unit conducts world-class research to improve our understanding, diagnosis and treatment of various movement disorders. Patients can volunteer to participate in an array of important research activities, including:

  • Clinical trials for new investigational drugs
  • Research into how movement disorders affect mood and intellect
  • Blood tests to study the genetic or inherited aspects of disease
  • MRI scans and PET scans to learn more about certain brain diseases

Outside of our unit, the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND) aims to conduct research and translate laboratory discoveries into prevention, treatment and cures for Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Through the subspecialties within the Movement Disorders Unit, some patients may qualify to take part in clinical trials that offer access to the latest therapies and treatment approaches.

Conditions & Diseases

  • Dystonia

    Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle contraction and forces certain body parts, such as limbs, hands, face and/or neck, into abnormal positions.

  • Huntington’s disease

    Huntington’s disease (HD) is a progressive, inherited, neurodegenerative disease that affects muscle coordination and results in movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders.

  • Parkinson's Disease

    Parkinson's disease (PD or, simply, Parkinson's) is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is associated with symptoms such as tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs and face, stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), postural instability or impaired balance and coordination.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation for Movement Disorders

Our neurosurgeons use deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat patients with a wide variety of movement disorders. DBS involves implanting an electrode in the brain to interrupt and stimulate nerve activity. Our center uses the most advanced stereotactic technology, microelectrode recordings, for optimal lead positioning and the best patient outcome. The most common movement disorder we treat is Parkinson's disease. Other disorders that can be treated using deep brain stimulation include Essential tremor and Dystonia.

Mass General was one of the first hospitals to perform DBS and today we also use it to treat many different types of Dystonia which include:

  • Genetic dysonia
  • Generalized dystonia
  • Hemidystonia
  • Segmental dystonia
  • Focal dystonia, such as Spasmodic torticollis

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's Disease: Expectations and Fact Sheet

Learn facts and frequently asked questions about DBS.

Download Fact Sheet

Patient Education

Clinical Trials



  • Video about Parkinson's and LBD research

    Parkinson's Symposium at MIND- 2008

    Momentum in our Pursuit of Cures - Research advances in Parkinson's, Lewy Body dementia, and Parkinson's-Plus disorders. Anne B. Young, MD, PhD, Director, MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND), formerly Chief of Neurology Service.

  • Neurology bicentennial logo

    Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, 2011 Part I

    Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Past History of MGH Neurology; Overview of MGH Neurology; Telestroke and Acute Stroke Service; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Pediatric Neurology.

  • Neurology bicentennial logo

    Neurology Bicentennial Celebration 2011 II HD

    Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Clinical and research presentations on Huntington’s Disease, Epilepsy, and Neuro-Oncology.

  • Partners Neurology Residents at Mass General

    Partners Neurology Residency

    Neurology residents, program graduates, faculty members, and the education director talk about training at Mass General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


Contact Us

Movement Disorders Unit

Wang Ambulatory Care Center

15 Parkman Street8th Floor, Room 830 Boston, MA 02114
  • Near Public Transit
  • Accessible
  • Phone: 1-855-644-6387


  • 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Mailing Address
Movement Disorders Unit
Mailcode: WACC 8-830
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Neurology Access Center for Adult Outpatient Clinics
Phone: 1-855-MGH-NEUR (1-855-644-6387)
Business Hours: 8:00 am to 4:45 pm

Patient Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What is the best number to contact your office?
A:  617-726-5532

Q: How long are appointments?
New patients: 60min
Follow up appointments: 30min
Appointments with Fellows: NEW 90min; FOL 30 min


Access Patient Gateway

Movement Disorders Unit: 617-726-5532

Support Us

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