The Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC) at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center is one of six VA centers nationwide dedicated to providing exceptional clinical care, education and support for veterans with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, in addition to ongoing research into the causes of Parkinson's disease. An internationally recognized staff of neurologists and neurosurgeons provide treatment to veteran patients. The PADRECC is proudly affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Health System's Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center which is recognized by the National Parkinson Foundation as one of its worldwide Centers of Excellence and is one of the largest and most comprehensive centers of its type in the U.S. The Center is renowned for its programs in experimental therapeutics, comprehensive patient care, including the surgical management of Parkinson's disease and patient oriented research.

Movement disorders are diseases of the nervous system which impair coordination and walking, or produce shaking and other involuntary movements. Common disorders include Parkinson's disease, Essential Tremor, Huntington's disease, Dystonia and Tourette syndrome. The diagnosis of movement disorders may be difficult as symptoms are often similar and may mimic related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Accurate diagnosis is critical because treatments and resources are available to help veterans lead fuller and more productive lives.

The PADRECC is staffed by internationally recognized neurologists and neurosurgeons who specialize in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. Additionally, a team consisting of psychologists, a neurophysiologist, nurses, a social worker, and physical and occupational therapists will provide a multidimensional approach to patient care. Physical and occupational therapy available in the PADRECC are important in maintaining the ability to cope with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Participation in a regular Parkinson exercise class or a physical therapy or rehabilitation program will help to limit the complications associated with Parkinson's disease.

Research is an important and on-going mission of the PADRECC, as it is the gateway to discovering new ways to control or delay disability caused by movement disorders through testing novel therapies and treatment alternatives. Several experimental medications are currently in trial. The PADRECC is actively recruiting patients who are newly diagnosed in the hope of developing therapies that may slow the progression of the Parkinson's are of special interest to researchers in the on-going search for the cause of the disease.

A basic research program is a key element of the PADRECC, with scientists focusing on the basic mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The goal of this research, which will be a collaborative effort with Penn's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, will be to effect therapies aimed at the underlying disease process.

The PADRECC is at the forefront of surgical treatment options for veterans who no longer respond satisfactorily to medications. Neurosurgical treatments are available for select patients.

Pallidotomy and thalarnotomy are surgical procedures that relieve specific symptoms of dyskinesia and tremor and involve creating a permanent lesion in the brain. Deep Brain Stimulation is a surgical procedure that involves implanting electrodes in certain brain regions, and relieves Parkinson's symptoms without creating a permanent lesion. The PADRECC is one of the few programs in the country involved in the investigation of the uses of Deep Brain Stimulation to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The PADRECC offers educational programs for veterans and their families and for health care professionals and physicians. A community lecture is offered annually. In conjunction with the Parkinson's Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Parkinson Foundation, a wide array of literature and other educational material is available. Support groups are available both at the PADRECC and throughout the tristate area. For current listing of group locations, call 888.959.2323