Explore This Treatment Program

Overview

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

Our unit includes several 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
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Clinic: recognized as a CurePSP Center of Care by the CurePSP Foundation, the leading foundation for PSP research and care

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 of Movement Disorders:

  • 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 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

At the Movement Disorders Unit, some patients may qualify to take part in clinical trials that offer access to the latest therapies and treatment approaches.

Current clinical trials include:

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