What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease is a type of movement disorder. It happens when nerve cells in the brain don't produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine. Sometimes it is genetic, but most cases do not seem to run in families. Exposure to chemicals in the environment might play a role.
Symptoms begin gradually, often on one side of the body. Later they affect both sides. They include:
- Trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
- Stiffness of the arms, legs and trunk
- Slowness of movement
- Poor balance and coordination
As symptoms get worse, people with the disease may have trouble walking, talking or doing simple tasks. Other symptoms may include trouble chewing, swallowing or speaking. Individuals may also experience depression and sleep problems.
There is no lab test for Parkinson disease, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors use a medical history and neurological examination to diagnose it.
Parkinson's disease usually begins around age 60, but it can start earlier. It is more common in men than in women. There is no cure for the disease. A variety of medicines sometimes improve symptoms dramatically. Surgery and deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help severe cases. With DBS, electrodes are surgically implanted in the brain. They send electrical pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain that control movement.
Source: NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease
Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is sometimes difficult, since early signs may mimic other diseases. There is no blood or laboratory test to diagnose the disease. Sometimes, imaging studies, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a dopamine transporter SPECT scan (DaTscan), may be used to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms such as essential tremor.
Our movement disorders physicians will compile your comprehensive health history and conduct a thorough physical exam. Using internationally accepted criteria from the UK Brain Bank, we diagnose you based on the presence or absence of resting tremor, rigidity, slow movements and postural instability.
We have a genetic counselor who can answer your questions about genes and movement disorders. About 15 percent of people with Parkinson’s have a family history of the disease, although there is no genetic test to confirm who will get the disease.
Parkinson's Disease Community
The Ohio State Parkinson’s Disease and Related Movement Disorders Community is designed to connect you to the information, resources and support you need.
- Parkinson's disease community and resources
- Parkinson's disease education series
- Parkinson's disease fitness classes
Meet Our Specialists
Aristide Merola, MD, PhD
Dr. Merola earned his medical degree in 2004, followed by a neurology residency in 2009, a Ph.D. in clinical neuroscience in 2013, and a post-doctoral fellowship in movement disorders/clinical neurophysiology in 2016 – all at the University of Torino, Italy.
In 2016, he joined the University of Cincinnati in the Movement Disorders Division and, in 2019, moved to the Ohio State University. Dr. Merola is the Director of the OSU Center for Parkinson's disease and Other Movement Disorders. He co-chairs the International Movement Disorder Society (MDS) Tremor Study Group and the Parkinson Study Group (PSG) Motor Features of Parkinson’s disease working group. He is also member of the MDS Task force on Early Onset Parkinson’s disease, the MDS Task Force on Technology in Parkinson’s disease, the MDS Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Study Group, and the Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ISSNAF). Dr. Merola is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications in international medical journals and the principal investigator of multiple interventional clinical trials. His primary areas of interest involve gene therapy, DBS, infusion therapies, and MRI-guided focused ultrasound ablation.
Ariane Park, MD, MPH
Dr. Park received her bachelor’s degree in cognitive neuroscience from Harvard University, her master’s degree in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University, and her medical degree from Ohio State University. She completed her internship and neurology residency at Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in movement disorders at Duke University Medical Center. In 2009, she joined Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Neurology.
Dr. Park is currently Vice Chair of Academic Affairs and Co-director of the OSU Center for Parkinson Disease and Other Movement Disorders. She has published predominantly in the area of Parkinson’s disease, and has been the principal or co-investigator on several clinical trials. She manages patients with all types of movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, tremor, dystonia, restless legs syndrome and spasticity.
Brian Dalm, MD
Dr. Brian Dalm is a neurosurgeon specializing in pain and functional neurosurgical disorders. He received his medical training at Loyola University and completed his neurosurgery residency and functional neurosurgery fellowship at the University of Iowa. Prior to joining The Ohio State University, Dr. Dalm was the director of the pain and functional program at Houston Methodist, where he also received the Teacher of the Year Award for the 2018-2019 academic year. Dr. Dalm’s research focuses on using neuroimaging techniques to better identify and predict patients who may benefit from neuromodulation therapy earlier in their treatment, as well as device development and predictive modeling of stimulation therapy and how that improves the localization of device placement.
Barbara Kelly Changizi, MD
Dr. Changizi earned a bachelor’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Virginia and neurobiology from the University of Maryland. She completed a fellowship in movement disorders at Albany Medical College and then directed their Deep Brain Stimulation(DBS) Program. In 2011, she joined Mount Sinai Medical Center to become the Co-Director of the Center for Neuromodulation. She joined the Ohio State University in 2013. Dr. Changizi specializes in movement disorders including Parkinson disease, tremor, dystonia, and tics. She has expertise in advanced therapies including DBS, intestinal infusion pumps for Parkinson disease, and botulinum toxin injection. She has co-authored many scientific publications and has been involved in clinical trials. She is responsible for the curriculum in movement disorders for the medical students and neurology residents and is the Director of the Movement Disorders Fellowship program.
Clarisse Goas, MS, CNP
Clarisse Goas graduated Summa Cum Laude with Research Distinction from The Ohio State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She graduated in 2012 with her MSN in Adult Health after receiving the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Award. She worked for 4 years at Pickaway Health Services in Primary Care. Her father’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease contributed to her desire to subspecialize in Movement Disorders. She worked for 4 years at Wake Forest Baptist Health treating Movement Disorders patients. She returned to Ohio in 2019 and joined The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in the Advanced Therapies Movement Disorders program in January of 2020. She has experience in clinical trials including new medication symptomatic interventions, deep brain stimulation and intestinal pump drug delivery systems.
Rozena Davis, MS, CNP
Rozena Davis graduated from Ohio State in 2017 with a Master of Science in Nursing having worked previously as a certified rehabilitation nurse. She joined the Movement Disorders Team as a Nurse Practitioner in 2018. She is a member of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. She has experience with advanced therapies such as deep brain stimulation a for a variety of movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and tremor disorders and is part of the clinical trials team.
Jessica Truelove, MS, CNP
Jessica Truelove graduated from Miami University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a Master of Science in Nursing and became certified as an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. She began working at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in the Department of Neurology in the autumn of 2015. She received specialized training with the Cognitive Disorders and the Movement Disorders divisions. She is part of the research team in both divisions. She is a member of the International Movement Disorders Society, American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses.
Katherine Ambrogi, BSN, RN
Kate Ambrogi was granted a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with honors in 2008 from Kent State University. She has had experience working as a care provider in a senior health care program. She has also had nursing experience working on a fast paced inpatient medical surgical step down unit and on an Ohio State University James Cancer Center surgical unit. She joined the OSU movement disorders division team in 2013. She helps triage patient phone calls and serves as an advocate for movement disorders patients as they navigate the complexities of the health care system facilitating patient care and customer service. She also helps coordinate movement disorders clinical research trials.
Erika Shultz, BA
Clinical Research Coordinator
Deb Kegelmeyer, PT, DPT, MS, GCS
Anne Kloos, PT, PhD, NCS
Jared Braden, DPT, PT, NCS
Jared has worked in outpatient neurologic physical therapy since 2011, the past 7 have been with Ohio State Outpatient Rehabilitation. Jared is the Parkinson's Team Coordinator in Outpatient Rehabilitation and he is a Board-Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist. He treats patients with a variety of neurologic injury and disease and a significant amount of his clinical care is dedicated to treating patients with Parkinson’s disease. Jared also treats patients with multiple sclerosis, vestibular disease or illness and other neurologic diagnoses. Jared has a special interest in helping patients and families learn physical management programs and strategies to assist in functioning with a neurodegenerative disease across their lifespan.
Erica Wright, MSW, LISW-S
Sarah Fout, BSN, RN
As part of one of the largest academic medical centers in the nation, our center is able to offer truly cutting-edge treatment.
Although we will always explore the effectiveness of medication as a first line of treatment – and a pharmacist is available to answer questions, provide support and help with medication management – we also offer advanced therapies, surgery and access to clinical trials that have proven extremely effective for movement disorders.
Deep Brain Stimulation
Duopa and other infusion therapies
Focused Ultrasound Ablation (FUSA)
One of Ohio State’s strengths is our therapy program, led by therapists who specialize in movement disorders.
- Our focus is on helping people maintain their highest level of function and movement.
- We work closely with all team members to help you manage motor, cognitive and psychiatric impairments that affect your ability to move.
Why choose Ohio State?
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is central Ohio’s only academic health center, at the forefront of medicine, where discovery and innovation in research laboratories make unique, effective therapies available to patients months, even years, before other hospitals. We’re proud that U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Ohio State the best hospital in Columbus, and we’ve spent 28 consecutive years on the U.S. News “Best Hospitals” list. Nine of our specialties—including neurology and neurosurgery—have been named to the 2020–2021 list.
Ohio State initiates clinical trials, participates in trials collaboratively with other institutions and networks with centers around the world to offer you the most effective treatments.
We are a member of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) NeuroNEXT: Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials. This collaboration results in more rapidly developing promising treatments, which provides patients like you more hope.
If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, a physician and clinical research coordinator will screen you. If you are eligible for a trial, you will have access to some of the latest advances in Parkinson’s disease treatment. Click the button below to learn about current opportunities or email PDRESEARCH@osumc.edu for more information.
The OSUWMC Movement Disorders Biorepository Program is a research endeavor aiming to advance the current knowledge of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders by analyzing each individual patient's biological diversity using innovative technologies (i.e., DNA and RNA analysis, fluid biomarkers, kinematic analysis, etc.). This collaborative effort aims to involve patients, clinicians, basic scientists, geneticists, and pathologists with the ambitious goal of advancing research towards a cure for Parkinson disease and related disorders.
If you are interested in participating in this effort by donating a sample of your blood or other biological tissue, please contact us. Additional information can be found here.
Interested in Giving?The “Parkinson’s Our Goal Is A Cure Fund” supports fellows, social workers, research, educational programs and Parkinson’s disease initiatives.
If you have questions or need further information about giving, please contact 614-366-2383 or make an online gift here.