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Movement Disorders

What Are Movement Disorders?

Movement disorders are diseases of the central nervous system that include or result from Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, substance use disorder, head trauma and many other causes. In some movement disorders, the body may not move when you want it to. Other times, movement may be present but uncoordinated, such as a staggering gait when walking. Other forms of movement disorders involve tremors or limited motions. Many other movement disorders are chronic or progressive, meaning they never go away, and may worsen over time. Yet, medical treatments and physical therapy can help many people with movement disorders live fulfilling and productive lives.


Movement disorders are caused by one of three basic mechanisms:

  • Parts of the brain that control voluntary movement are damaged. This may result in weakness or paralysis. Parkinson’s disease is the example most commonly associated.
  • Nerve cells that relay signals to the body (basal ganglia) are damaged. This may result in involuntary or decreased movement. Huntington’s disease is one example of movement disorder caused by deterioration of the basal ganglia.
  • The cerebellum itself may be damaged. This manifests as a lack of coordination, as found in severe cases of alcoholism.

When to Seek a Specialist

Since many movement disorders are progressive, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you notice any troublesome signs or symptoms, even before they begin to affect your daily routine. If you notice a lack of balance, slowed or uncoordinated movements, a tremor, slurred speech or rigid muscles, let your doctor know right away.

Whether or not you have a diagnosis, it’s a good idea to consult a movement disorder specialist. He or she can give you an initial diagnosis or a second opinion and make sure you’ve reviewed all treatment options thoroughly.

Why Temple Health?

Part of the Temple Neurosciences Center, the Movement Disorders Program draws on the experience of highly-trained neurologists and neurosurgeons, as well as a team of physical therapists and rehabilitation physicians.

The neurologists, neurosurgeons, and interventional neurologists on staff at the Movement Disorders Program have dedicated their careers to exploring innovative treatments for neurological conditions. While some focus on stroke and neuromuscular disorders, others work primarily with movement disorders. Many perform in-depth studies that may revolutionize how movement disorders are treated. For example, they perform research into the use of stem cells from bone marrow for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Across the range of movement disorders, Temple’s multi-specialty team of highly trained neurologists and neurosurgeons collaborate to specifically manage each movement disorder individually. Temple offers both standard and innovative treatments, supported by services such as physical therapy, to help patients maximize their abilities.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of a movement disorder, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat movement disorders.