Parkinson Disease and Movement Disorders

Movement disorders encompasses a large group of disorders including Parkinson disease.

Parkinson disease

Treatment studies

  • As Parkinson disease progresses, patients typically experience fluctuations in their response to medications. These fluctuations are commonly referred to as ON/OFF fluctuations and include wearing-off and peak-dose dyskinesias (involuntary movements). Several studies at UF are recruiting for new medications to manage the wearing OFF phenomenon.
  • Orthostatic hypotension is a common symptom in Parkinson disease. Patients feel dizzy or lightheaded when they sit or stand up. If you measure the blood pressure at the time, it would be quite low. This symptom can be very disabling, causing falls, and blackouts (fainting), and can severely limit activity. We are testing a new medication at UF to treat orthostatic hypotension.

Other studies

  • Parkinson disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Despite having effective symptomatic treatments, we do not have effective medications that can alter the disease course or slow its progression. Multiple agents have been tested for this effect, referred to as the neuroprotective effect. We are currently recruiting patients at UF with Parkinson disease to test the effects of certain drugs on neurodegenerative changes in the brain.
  • Wearable sensors: Everything in our lives is connected; our phones can track our exercise regimen and our sleep cycle. Doctors are trying to use this rise in technology to better track disease symptoms and to improve symptom control and quality of life. If you are interested in trying new technology to track Parkinson’s symptoms, contact our study coordinator.

Atypical Parkinsonisms

  1. Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is an atypical Parkinson disorder. While similar to Parkinson disease, symptoms in PSP are more rapidly progressive, disabling, and typically do not respond as well to drug treatment. At UF, we are recruiting for studies evaluating the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of new agents developed specifically for PSP.
  2. Lewy body Dementia (LBD): Lewy body Dementia is an umbrella term that includes Dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson disease with Dementia. We still have much to learn about what causes (LBD), who is at risk, and how to treat it. In order to develop more patient-centered research, UF researchers are trying to assess the priorities of patients and their caregivers for upcoming research projects.

Dystonia

UF is currently enrolling for a number of studies to treat different types of dystonias including spasmodic torticollis, blepharospasm, focal dystonia, and generalized dystonia. We participate also in a dystonia registry, important for characterizing dystonias and future clinical trial recruitment.

Essential tremor

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an FDA-approved surgical treatment for the management of essential tremor (Parkinson disease and dystonia). To optimize clinical benefit, multiple visits are needed to program the DBS device after implantation. UF is recruiting for a DBS study using new stimulation techniques that will hopefully improve the efficacy of the DBS process.

Huntington disease

The UF HDSA Center of Excellence is currently enrolling in studies for Huntington disease. Please contact our study coordinator (erin.monari@neurology.ufl.edu) for more information.

Tourette syndrome

Some patients with Tourette syndrome continue to have very disabling symptoms into adulthood. For patients with treatment refractory disease, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising new treatment option that remains under investigation. UF is on the forefront of this research and recruiting for studies in patients with Tourettes.

Contact Julie Segura Julie.Segura@neurology.ufl.edu for more information.