Movement Disorders Program Provides Comprehensive Services
The movement disorders program at Providence Saint John’s Health Center is expanding, offering patients a full range of diagnostic, treatment and supportive services, including a new Parkinson’s disease patient support group and access to evidence-based physical therapy.
The Pacific Movement Disorders Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute was established in 2016 and is under the direction of neurologist Melita Petrossian, MD, and neurosurgeon Jean-Philippe Langevin, MD. The practice, located at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and with a new satellite clinic at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, is aimed at treatment of such conditions as Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, dystonia and essential tremor.
“We offer patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders multidisciplinary and comprehensive services,” Dr. Petrossian says.
Dr. Petrossian and Dr. Langevin are attuned to the latest developments in the field and provide state-of-the-art options. For example, they now offer two types of deep brain stimulation (DBS) devices. DBS is an innovative surgical treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia and many other brain disorders.
DBS is often described as a kind of a pace-maker for the brain. Surgeons implant a battery under the skin near the collarbone. Leads or wires are then tunneled under the skin, in the neck, behind the ear and into deep regions of the brain. Electrical stimulation—controlled by a small, programmable device—is delivered to the brain to quell symptoms.
While not a cure, DBS can help control tremors and improve quality of life in appropriate patients. And patients now have a choice between a device made by Medtronic and a newer device made by Abbott (formerly St. Jude). The newer device features Bluetooth wireless technology.
“The Abbott/St. Jude device is more user-friendly and allows patients to check the battery and more easily make programming changes that are allowed by the physician,” Dr. Petrossian says. “It’s good for people who are comfortable with the Apple software platform. We’re excited to be able to offer this.”
It’s important for patients with movement disorders to seek care with a neurologist trained in the movement disorders sub-specialty and who can offer a broad spectrum of care, Dr. Petrossian says. In addition to diagnostic and treatment services, PNI’s movement disorders program provides patients with access to a specialized physical therapy program and support group.
Giselle Tamula, MSN, NP-C, a nurse practitioner trained in movement disorders facilitates the Parkinson’s disease patient support group, “Life in Motion”, that meets the third Tuesday of each month, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. The group meets in the evening in order to provide access to patients, family members or caregivers who work during the day.
The support group “really helps in patients’ resilience in dealing with the symptoms,” Dr. Petrossian says. “A lot of people with Parkinson’s disease will isolate themselves; they don’t know anyone else with Parkinson’s disease. This community of patients helps each other.”
Each meeting consists of a 45-minute presentation by an expert covering a different topic each month—such as surgery, medication or insurance issues. The second half of the meeting features discussion and sharing.
Physical therapy has also shown to be of great value to many patients. As a result, Dr. Petrossian has established a physical therapy program with Performance Therapy that is designed for Parkinson’s disease patients. Performance Therapy is a full-service, multi-disciplinary physical therapy center affiliated with Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
“We have created a really well-defined program for patients based on where they’re at in the course of the disease,” she says. “There is an emphasis on prevention. Physical therapy used to be thought of as a last resort. But there is a lot of data showing that doing physical therapy early in the course of the disease and getting on a personalized physical activity regimen is so helpful physically and psychologically and in the prevention of falls. It’s absolutely vital that anyone who has Parkinson’s disease and is considering physical therapy go to a program where people know Parkinson’s and what works and what doesn’t help.”
For more information about the movement disorders center, go to pacificmovement.org.
Providence Saint John’s Health Center
Garden Level and First Floor Clinics
2121 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica CA, 90404
Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance
4201 Torrance Blvd, Suite 520
Torrance, CA 90503
Adapted from original article in FALL 2017 issue of BREAKTHROUGHS Magazine published by Providence Saint John’s Health Center.