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JFK Parkinson’s Disease Program

Comprehensive Care. Patient-Focused. Innovative Research

Our Approach JFK’s approach to managing Parkinson’s disease (PD) uses a combination of gold standard interventions, a multidisciplinary team of clinical professionals and the newest discoveries from scientific literature and innovative research.

Located in Edison, New Jersey, the JFK Parkinson’s Disease Center is comprised of the JFK Neuroscience Institute and the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. Both Institutes are uniquely qualified to offer comprehensive services in a single location and work collaboratively to accurately diagnose PD and to create a care plan for each individual patient.

Patients receive a wide range of medical care from our neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiatrists, nurse practitioners, as well as comprehensive sub-specialized rehabilitation services from speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists. It is our goal to educate patients and their families about PD thereby helping them to achieve an improved quality of life.

NEUROLOGICAL ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT

Whether it develops slowly or suddenly, a movement disorder is characterized by uncontrollable body movements, lack of coordination, muscle tightness, or increasing difficulty in walking or using one’s hands. Movement disorders are neurological and require an accurate diagnosis, along with options for treatment, in order for patients to remain in control of their bodies and lives.

At the JFK Neuroscience Institute, expert clinicians, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-pathologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, neuro-psychologists, neuro-radiologists and social workers are uniquely equipped to develop a comprehensive, individualized program of care that meets the specific of each patient and his or her family.

Types of Disorders

The Institute’s multidisciplinary approach serves the varying medical and surgical needs of patients with movement disorders such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Cortical-basal ganglionic degeneration (CBGD) Essential Tremor
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)
  • Atypical Parkinsonism (Parkinsonism-Plus)
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (diffuse Lewy Body Disease)
  • Vascular (multi-infarct) Parkinsonism
  • Blepharospasm / Hemifacial spasm
  • Dystonia
  • Huntington's disease

Causes

People of all ages are at risk for developing a movement disorder, although many of the disorders are typically associated with aging. Some common causes are:

  • Degenerative conditions (Parkinson’s, striatonigral degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, etc.)
  • Heredity (Wilson’s disease, essential tremor, and certain dystonias)
  • Infections
  • Exposure to manganese, carbon monoxide or thallium
  • History of stroke, head injury, or cerebral vascular disease

Diagnostic Services

An accurate diagnosis of a movement disorder relies on a combination of tests and a carefully documented history of the problem. A comprehensive diagnostic work-up at the JFK Neuroscience Institute is developed for each patient that may include some or all of the following:

  • A comprehensive medical history
  • A complete physical and neurological examination
  • Blood tests (routine chemistries, CBC, ceruloplasmin)
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
  • Functional MRI Scan
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scans DaTscan
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Autonomic testing

Treatment Options

After the comprehensive evaluation, the patient and family are offered a list of treatment options tailored to the patient’s specific problems, including: injections, psychological evaluations, rehabilitation efforts, and surgery. They are aimed at improving the function and quality of life of the patient.

Medical Options

  • Adjusting current medications
  • Adding new, standard medications
  • Investigational medications
    • Establishing eligibility for enrollment in ongoing clinical trials
  • Consulting a certified dietitian for nutrition therapy
  • Injections: Botulinum toxins
  • Rehabilitation:
    • Evaluation by a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Johnson Rehabilitation Institute
    • Physical, occupational, or speech therapy
  • Psychological Evaluations
    • Neuro-psychological evaluation for cognitive rehabilitation
    • Psychological evaluation for mood disorders

Neurosurgical Options

The JFK Neuroscience Institute is one of only a few New Jersey Parkinson’s Disease Centers that performs Deep Brain Stimulus (DBS). DBS can be highly effective in reducing or even eliminating the effects of certain motor symptoms such as tremors or, in advanced cases, uncontrolled involuntary muscle movement (dyskinesia).

Another option is Carbidopa/Levidopa Enteral Suspension (Duopa). Patients must meet certain criteria to qualify for these procedures.

ADVANCED REHABILITATION

The JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute offers comprehensive services for Parkinson’s Disease patients encompassing medical evaluation and therapeutic intervention, as well as cutting-edge approaches to improving and maintaining function. Each patient is treated individually with a customized treatment plan that includes programs for continued generalization of acquired skills into the home environment and community settings.

Our Approach for Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease

  • Medication compliance
  • Rehabilitation services for essential therapy
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Adapting the home environment for safety
  • Ongoing psycho-social support
  • Exercise
  • Education on new and ongoing treatment options
  • Diet and nutritional information
  • Encouragement and inspiration on how to be one’s best self

Our Parkinson’s Disease program provides multi-professional consultation by a team that includes a physiatrist (Doctor of Rehabilitative Medicine), a physical therapist and a speech language pathologist. This visit provides you with an opportunity to be evaluated by a team of professionals assessing posture, balance and overall function for the purpose of deciding which services are beneficial to your condition. This approach allows you to have a group of professionals available for consultation and to obtain the necessary recommendations for ongoing or new treatments.

Specialized Parkinson’s Disease Services

  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians
  • Comprehensive Individual Physical and Occupational Therapy (link to PT/OT)
  • Speech Pathology for Swallowing, Communication and Cognitive Treatment
  • Neuropsychological testing and treatment
  • LSVT LOUD® and LSVT BIG®
  • LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG Certified therapists
  • Orthotics
  • Wheelchair Clinics
  • Post therapy group wellness classes (JFK Health & Wellness Center)
  • Nutritional Consultations
  • Psychological Support
  • Audiology Services
  • Rock Steady Boxing
  • Monthly Parkinson’s Disease team consultation
  • Rehabilitation Facilities in Edison, Metuchen and Monroe, New Jersey

Continuity of Care

We recognize that Parkinson’s Disease patient therapy needs to support carry-over into real life with successful generalization of strategies. Patients and families need to know how to continue navigating through their everyday lives after skilled intervention is completed as part of their treatment plan. It is important to return to physicians and therapists to evaluate effectiveness of current treatments, and manage changes or fluctuations in function. We are committed to being a community resource for all Parkinson’s Disease needs, including referrals, support groups, skilled therapies and necessary equipment.

Long-Term Care

If long-term care eventually becomes necessary, there are three Hartwyck Nursing, Convalescent and Rehabilitation centers within JFK Health: one of them houses the first dedicated unit for individuals with Huntington’s disease in New Jersey. Each center offers skilled nursing and respite care in pleasant, comfortable surroundings and allows patients and their families to remain in communication with and close to the care of their Neuroscience Institute physicians.