Our brains represent one of the last great frontiers of humankind; understanding them is a challenge that will pave the way for as-yet-unimagined possibilities. Inspired by such possibilities, doctors and researchers who study the brain and the nervous system discover new wonders every day about how humankind thinks and operates. At the forefront of these discoveries are the neurologists at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center who specialize in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating both common and rare neurological conditions and diseases.
Throughout MedStar Montgomery, our neuroscience programs use a team approach to effectively treat some of the region’s most complex cases of stroke, aneurysm, epilepsy, and cancer—as well as disorders of the brain and spine—and to offer new options and hope to all of our patients.
Movement disorders are a group of neurological disorders that consist of the motor and movement systems. Some of these diseases include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Essential tremor
- Huntington’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder. Characteristic primary symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors, rigidity, slow movement (bradykinesia), poor balance and difficulty walking (referred to as “parkinsonian gait”). Primary symptoms definitions:
- Bradykinesia is slowness in voluntary movement. It produces difficulty initiating movement and difficulty completing movement once it is in progress. Delayed transmission of signals from the brain to the skeletal muscles, due to diminished dopamine, produces bradykinesia.
- Tremors in the hands, fingers, forearms or feet tend to occur when a limb is at rest but not when performing tasks. Tremors can also occur in the mouth and chin.
- Rigidity (or stiff muscles) can produce muscle pain and an expressionless, mask-like face, and it tends to increase during movement.
- Poor balance happens when there is an impairment or loss of reflexes that adjust posture to help maintain balance.
- Parkinsonian gait is a distinctive unsteady walk associated with Parkinson’s disease. There is a tendency to lean unnaturally backward or forward, and to develop a stooped, head-down, shoulders-drooped stance. Arm swinging is diminished or absent, and people with Parkinson’s tend to take small shuffling steps (referred to as festination).
Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder and is characterized by rhythmic shaking which occurs during voluntary movement (action tremor), such as lifting a cup to one's mouth, or while voluntarily maintaining a position against gravity (postural tremor), such as reaching or extending one's hand or arm. It is less common when at rest.
Some patients may have a family history of tremors that usually involves the arms and hands. The neurological exam is otherwise normal. If the tremor is disabling, medication can be useful.
Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary, continual muscular contractions. It can result in twisted, contorted postures of the body or limbs. Movements are usually slow and may appear exaggerated. The many causes of this movement disorder include biochemical abnormalities, degenerative disorders, psychiatric dysfunction, toxins and drugs.
Huntington's Disease Center
MedStar Montgomery Medical Center is proud to offer services by physicians specializing in Huntington's Disease from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH). In collaboration with Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), MGUH launched the Huntington's Disease Care, Education and Research Center. With support from the Griffin Foundation, the Huntington's Disease Center is the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary center to focus on treatment, patient education and research of the disease in the Washington, D.C. area.
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