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

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

Group outside in circle holding hands
The Ohio State Parkinson’s Disease and Related Movement Disorders Community is designed to connect you to the information, resources and support you need.

Register for PD Education Events

Meet Our Specialists

Ariane Park, MD, MPH

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.

Clinical profile

Brian Dalm, MD

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.

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Clarisse Goas, MS, CNP

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.

Clinical profile

DavisRozena

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.

Clinical profile

Jessica Truelove, MS, CNP

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.

Clinical profile

Katherine Ambrogi, BSN, RN

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

Erika Shultz, BA

Clinical Research Coordinator

Erika Shultz attended Ohio Wesleyan University focusing on cognitive and behavioral neuroscience with a minor in psychology. She received the G.A. Bahrich Memorial Award for Excellence in Research in April 2018 and graduated with her BA in 2019. She worked as a clinical research assistant at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center coordinating multiple clinical trials including those trying to find ways to improve quality of life for individuals with autism and developing mental health assessment tools for youths with intellectual disabilities. She joined the Movement Disorders Dvision in 2020 as a clinical research coordinator covering projects across all spectrums of these disorders ranging from studies to improve problematic symptoms including orthostatic hypotension and new gene therapy trials.
Deb Kegelmeyer PT, DPT, MS, GCS

Deb Kegelmeyer, PT, DPT, MS, GCS

Deb Kegelmeyer PT, DPT, MS, GCS received her Bachelor of Science in Physical therapy from the Ohio State University, followed by her Master of Science in Allied Medicine, also from OSU. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professional at Harvard University, Boston, MA. She is a certified subspecialist in Geriatric Physical Therapy. She is a Clinical Professor in the Physical Therapy Division of the OSU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She has worked closely with the Movement Disorders team at OSU since 2005 and has been an active researcher on improving mobility related for Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease affected individuals. Together with Drs. Kloos and Kostyk, she is a co-founder of the Mobility and Exercise in Neurological Disorders Laboratory (MEND Lab) focusing on gait and balance disorders.
Anne Kloos, PT, PhD, NCS

Anne Kloos, PT, PhD, NCS

Anne Kloos, PT, PhD, NCS received her physical therapy degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her doctoral degree in biology/neuroscience from Cleveland State University. Dr. Kloos is currently a Professor Clinical in the Physical Therapy Division of the OSU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She is a board-certified neurologic physical therapy specialist. Dr. Kloos has worked as a consultant physical therapist at the OSU Movement Disorders Clinic since 2005. She is a Co-Principal Investigator of the Mobility and Exercise in Neurodegenerative Disorders (MEND) Laboratory and Co-Director of the Ohio State University Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program.
Jared Braden

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.

Academic profile

Erica Wright, MSW, LISW-S

Erica Wright, MSW, LISW-S

Erica Wright, MSW, LISW-S received her Master of Social Work degree from The Ohio State University in 2009. Since that time she has worked in the Columbus community in roles to support individuals with chronic health conditions and disabilities. Erica provides support for patients and their caregivers, as well as information on community resources, long term care and home health, as well as information on the disability process and work related issues, and Medicare and Medicaid.
FoutSarah

Sarah Fout, BSN, RN

Sarah Fout received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with honors from Indiana Wesleyan University. Since 2015, she has worked in a variety of roles on the Movement Disorders team at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Her most important role is ensuring patients and caregivers experience efficient and seamless care. She coordinates the multiple complicated treatments and scheduling needs of patients. She acts as a daily liaison between the neurology and neurosurgery teams in order to achieve maximum efficiency resulting in outstanding patient care.

Treatment innovation

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.

Our specialty clinics can manage Parkinson’s disease

As part of your treatment, we offer specialized Parkinson’s disease clinics to help those who are experiencing movement disorders. In our specialty clinics, our experts will provide you with evidence-based care in a one-stop-shop setting.

You’ll meet with neurologists, physical and occupational therapists, mental health providers and other specialists on the same day and at one location.

Participating in these programs will offer you a strong support network in your care and help improve outcomes.

  • Parkinson’s Disease Multidisciplinary Clinic – This clinic makes it easy for people to receive all the care they need in a timely fashion while still focusing on individualized treatment plans. While we’ll work on movement issues at the clinic, we’ll also treat other issues, such as sleep, depression and constipation, that are common with the disease. A team comprising a movement disorder neurologist, advanced practice provider, nurse and medical assistants will work closely with physical, occupational and speech therapists, psychologists and a social worker to best meet your various needs.
  • Functional Movement Disorder Clinic – A group of our expert providers accurately assess and diagnose functional movement disorders. We’ll also monitor symptoms over time and recommend evidence-based psychotherapy, like biweekly cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, to treat those symptoms. Other therapies, like physical, occupational and speech, may also be incorporated.
  • Movement Disorders Neuromodulation Clinic – Neuromodulation is the treatment of pain with electrical stimulation. However, the technology can also have an impact on nerve activity in people with movement disorders. In this clinic, a team of specialists will evaluate you to see if you’re a candidate for neuromodulation therapy, like deep brain stimulation, as well as monitor effects if you already had the treatment.

A referral may be required to be seen at these clinics. Talk to your doctor about how to get started.

Therapy

Therapy

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.

Research

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. 

Participate in a Clinical Trial

The Biorepository Program

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.
Doctor and patient in office performing hand exam
The Center for Parkinson's Disease and Other Movement Disorders diagnoses and treats even the rarest movement disorders.

Additional Information

You will be mailed an appointment reminder along with new patient forms that ask you about symptoms, medications and medical history. We ask that you have the doctor referring you send us your medical records. Please also bring your own copies of records or CDs of imaging studies, as well as a list or bottles of medications and dosages you take or have taken for Parkinson’s. 

Preparing for your visit

 

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.

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