Breakthroughs

Research allows us to find better solutions for taking care of movement disorders patients and a greater understanding of the diseases. At OHSU, our researchers have made advances in surgery, medical care, drug therapy, basic science and other caregiver tools to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders.

Deep brain stimulation asleep surgery

Dr. Kim Burchiel, among the nation's leading deep brain stimulation surgeons, pioneered “asleep” DBS surgery, giving patients the best-available comfort and results. He has conducted extensive DBS research, bringing new treatments to patients, and educates neurosurgeons all over the world on his work. Learn more about deep brain stimulation at OHSU.

Levodopa treatment

levodopa (L-dopa) - the single most effective anti-Parkinson drug; it is changed into dopamine in the brain.

Dr. Jay Nutt was the first scientist to extensively research how levodopa is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated by the body. Further, Dr. Nutt designed a system that tests how levodopa works with other medications to improve treatment. This research has provided significant clinical and scientific understanding about levodopa and future treatment for PD.

Balance evaluation and therapy tools

Dr. Fay Horak's Balance Disorders Laboratory has developed the Balance Evaluation Systems Test. This test allows clinicians to quantify 4 different types of balance and gait in their patients, who wear small sensors during testing.

In collaboration with the University of Bologna Department of Engineering, Dr. Horak's Balance Disorders Laboratory has developed a unique biofeedback device to improve balance. Balance lab studies have shown significant improvement in quiet stance and in walking in patients who have loss of vestibular function.

Lewy bodies and cell death in Parkinson's

Dr. Vivek Unni has pioneered new model systems to study the role of Lewy bodies in the neuronal cell death that underlies Parkinson's. His advanced imaging approaches allow his lab to study how Lewy bodies are related to cell death, by viewing the living brains of mouse models. The Unni Lab has recently shown the first in vivo evidence that Lewy body formation is tightly associated with cell death. Dr. Unni is extending this work to develop new treatments that could stop neurons from dying and halt the progression of Parkinson's disease.