Finding a Movement Disorder Specialist in Your Area
The healthcare team of an individual with Parkinson's disease (PD) can have a variety of different specialists. Primary care providers, neurologists, physical or occupational therapists, mental health providers, and more can all be a part of the team. One specialist that may be helpful to add to the lineup is a movement disorder specialist.
What is a movement disorder specialist?
Unlike a broad-scale neurologist, a movement disorder specialist focuses specifically on conditions, like PD, that affect movement. Movement disorder specialists may also help treat tics, tremors, chorea (an involuntary movement disorder), and dystonia (a condition that leads to involuntary contractions of the muscles). Like any other specialist, a movement disorder expert will work with your existing healthcare team, to provide a holistic approach to your care. Most, if not all, of the experts on your team can collaborate to help develop the best care plan for you.1
How do you find a movement disorder specialist?
An individual can seek a movement disorder specialist at any time during their PD battle. A movement disorder specialist does not exclusively work with those who are newly diagnosed or who are very far progressed. Parkinson's Foundation developed a search tool that allows individuals to search for expert PD centers, which include movement disorder specialists, and community organizations within five to 250 miles away from their zip code or state.2
The tool can be found here: Parkinson's Foundation In Your Area.
Additionally, the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society offers an international directory of movement disorder specialists, which can be found here: Movement Disorders Specialist Directory.
If you or a loved one is not interested in utilizing the online finder tool, a movement disorder specialist may also be recommended by another member of your healthcare team, specifically your primary care provider or neurologist. Movement disorder specialists may also be found within large teaching hospitals or associated with major universities. If these kinds of facilities exist in your area, they may be a helpful place to contact.1
Tips to consider before your first appointment
Seeing a movement disorder specialist does not have to occur on a regular basis, especially if the closest specialist is far away. However, this specialist may be able to help in creating an effective treatment plan. Before heading to your first appointment with a movement disorder specialist, there are a few tips to consider:
- Chart recent symptoms in order to provide your new specialist with an accurate picture of what has been going on.
- Bring, or write down, all medications you are currently taking.
- Create a list of questions for your new provider, as well as bring a notepad and pen to write down any answer you may receive.
- Bring a friend or loved one with you as an extra set of eyes and ears. Your loved one may also have their own questions that they’d like answered, especially if they also serve as your caregiver.
- Be prepared for tests and exams that may take a few hours to complete.3
As with any provider, if you do not feel supported or heard when visiting a movement disorder specialist, it is completely acceptable to visit another until you find the right fit. Although movement disorder specialists can be harder to find than some other specialists, finding the right provider for you may be worth the search.
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