USF center leads in research critical for developing new treatments to slow or stop Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson's  Disease and Movement Disorders Center, group shot

The USF Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center’s multidisciplinary team is led by USF Health neurologist Dr. Robert Hauser (center).

The USF Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, established in 1986, treats patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, including tremor, dystonia, chorea and restless legs syndrome.  The center’s multidisciplinary team, led by Dr. Robert A. Hauser, is nationally recognized for its longstanding clinical research to enhance treatment of Parkinson’s disease and its strong commitment to community outreach.

Here are some highlights of the center’s research, patient care and outreach:

– One of only 43 institutions worldwide to be designated a National Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, a prestigious, highly competitive recognition recently renewed for five years. USF is also one of 20 NPF centers participating in the Quality Improvement Initiative, a landmark study measuring and tracking treatments and patient outcomes over time in order to determine best clinical practices in real world settings.

– Serves more than 5,000 patients across West Central Florida.  The center has partnered with hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and other health care facilities throughout its service area to bring therapy and supportive care closer to patients.

– The center’s multidisciplinary team includes two neurologists specializing in movement disorders, a physician’s assistant, a clinical research administrator, clinical coordinators and a social worker.  The center works with USF neuropsychologists, a neurosurgery team with expertise in procedures to treat Parkinson’s, and researchers at the USF Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair investigating cell-based therapies for the disease.

– More than 30 active clinical trials are supported by a wide range of sponsors, including the National Institutes of Health, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, and major pharmaceutical companies.

– The center’s clinical research funding exceeded $4.3 million over the last five years.

– A top priority is conducting innovative research critical for the development of new and improved treatments for Parkinson disease.  Current studies include an NIH-sponsored trial to determine whether the nutritional supplement creatine can slow the development of Parkinson’s disease, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation-sponsored Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, a landmark observational study to identify biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease progression.

– The center offers a comprehensive package of education and support services for patients and caregivers.  Free weekly exercise classes to improve flexibility and balance — including Tai Chi – are provided at 11 sites in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Sarasota counties. Other services include support groups facilitated by the center’s outreach coordinator, lectures about treatments, disease management and a mentor program matching newly diagnosed patients with those who have had Parkinson’s for several years.

Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center, Eden Feldman, patient

Eden Feldman, MSW, (right) director of outreach for the USF Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders Center, chats with a patient.

For more information about the center and its services, please call (813) 396-0751.

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications